What is Bulgarian Buttermilk?

Yesterday, we went shopping for buttermilk for a cake recipe and found two choices: low-fat or Bulgarian. Bulgarian?

We tend to shy away from low-fat ingredients when baking, so we bought the Bulgarian. But then we remembered that buttermilk is, in its natural state, low-fat. (It's the thin liquid left over after you churn butter from cream.) Maybe the Bulgarian is a manufactured "whole milk" version? Had we made a huge mistake?

As Emma has explained before, commercially-made buttermilk is created by adding bacteria cultures to milk, then heating the mixture to give it that tart, slightly fermented taste. The California Milk Advisory Board had a helpful explanation on what makes Bulgarian buttermilk different:

Bulgarian buttermilk is a version of cultured buttermilk in which the cream cultures are supplemented or replaced by yogurt cultures and fermented at higher temperatures for higher acidity. It can be more tart and thicker than cultured buttermilk.

• Visit the California Milk Advisory Board.

We haven't made our cake yet, but we're thinking Bulgarian buttermilk will make a richer final product, given its thicker consistency. We'll see if the increased tartness is noticeable. We think it would be great in this Blackberry Buttermilk Ice Cream.

We're still stumped on why it's called Bulgarian. Anyone have any more information?

Related: Good Tip: Freezing Leftover Buttermilk

(Image: Elizabeth Passarella)