Tarator , an all-yogurt based traditional soup in Bulgaria
Walk into almost any Chinese supermarket these days and you'll likely see a range of yogurts from both domestic and foreign brands. But amid all these choices, not all yogurts are created equally in terms of their nutritional value — some contain sugar or artificial additives that make them less healthy than one might think.
Actually, with only a few simple ingredients and tools, it's easy to make delicious and nutritious yogurt right at home.
Turning milk into yogurt requires two basics: the right bacteria and an appropriate temperature. Common starter cultures include Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, Streptococcus Thermophilus, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Bifidus and Lactobacillus Casei.
The most straightforward yogurt-making method though is to mix a liter of fresh milk with a cup of unflavored yogurt that already contains a live culture. Heat the milk to right below boiling and remove the skin on top if formed, then let the milk cool until it's warm to the touch, then add a cup of the warm milk to thin the texture, then transfer to an oven or insulated container to keep the temperature at around 45 degrees Celsius overnight.
One healthy trend is Bulgarian yogurt, a relatively new variety in China where more people are starting to appreciate naturally-flavored yogurts.
The Bulgarians have a long history of making and eating yogurt. What makes the yogurt of Bulgaria special is the specific bacteria culture used by its makers.
Boyana Walsh is a full-time singer and vocal coach in Shanghai who was born and raised in Bulgaria. As a yogurt fanatic, she's very picky when it comes to yogurt, so when she left Bulgaria in 2001 to begin a career as a professional singer, she started making her own.
"I've lived in eight different countries, and travelled to twice as many others. I was surprised to find that in almost every country I found a local version of something called 'Bulgarian Yogurt.' But sadly, most of those products were highly disappointing," she said.
Walsh has a long history of gifting her homemade yogurts to people in her community, who convinced her to start selling her creations. She started a small yogurt business only three months ago and now sells her products on a made-to-order basis.
She learned the craft of making yogurt as a child. Bulgaria has a strong yogurt- and cheese-eating culture, and many people like Walsh grew up watching their parents and grandparents make these products at home.