Balkan-style yogurt, which is often called set-style yogurt, is any type of yogurt that is allowed to ferment inside individual containers rather than in a large vat. This type of yogurt is commonly seen in stores and is nearly always used for yogurt that is packaged with fruit on the bottom. The process for making Balkan-style yogurt is similar to that of making stirred or Swiss-style yogurt except that Balkan-style yogurt is packaged just after the bacterial culture is added rather than after the yogurt is fully fermented.
Like other types of yogurt, Balkan-style yogurt starts out as raw milk. Though cow's milk is the most common type used to make yogurt, milk from sheep, goats, yaks, and camels can also be used. The milk intended for yogurt that is mass produced for distribution through grocery stores is often pasteurized to kill off unwanted microorganisms. This helps make the yogurt safer for human consumption and, at the same time, allows the desired yogurt culture to reproduce in the yogurt without having to compete with other microbes. The milk is often homogenized as well in order to prevent the cream from separating out of the yogurt as it ferments.
After the milk has been properly prepared, the next step in making any type of yogurt is to allow the milk to cool. Once the milk is at the proper temperature, bacteria are added. At this point, Balkan-style yogurt is transferred to its final container which may be a small plastic or glass cup. Once it has been placed in this container, it is not handled again until it is ready to eat. In the case of Balkan-style fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, the fruit is placed in the bottom of the container before the yogurt is placed inside.
Once the yogurt has been placed in the container, it is given time to ferment. The bacteria needs to grow inside the milk, consuming lactose and excreting lactic acid, a process that makes the yogurt sour and thick. Once the yogurt has fermented, it is placed in cold storage until it is eaten.
Simple to make, Balkan-style yogurt is popular as both a homemade and a commercially produced yogurt. It thickens evenly and sets up more firmly than stirred-style yogurt. As it is cultured in individual containers, Balkan-style yogurt can be produced less expensively because large vats that must be thoroughly cleaned between uses are not needed.