Friday, April 1, 2011

Homemade Yogurt/ Laban

Ok so the story of why i decided to make homemade yogurt...well it is just something i wanted to try making at least once in my life so i decided to do the research to make sure it came out exactly how i like it. So it turns out, people, that most grocery store yogurts contain pectin which is like a plant gelatin (which is why apricots and cranberries and certain fruit gel up when cooked) but to get pectin it is extracted through chemicals and I am trying to stay away from as many artificial things as possible. So began my quest to make yogurt. So here are some things i learned through all my research and experimentation (i have been making yogurt for 5 months now!)
1. Boiling the milk first allows for a thicker yogurt in the end because some water evaporates
2. The lower the fat content of milk the more sour the yogurt
3. The longer the milk stays out the more sour it gets
4. If you use yogurt with pectin as your starter you will get slimy yogurt (YUCK!)
5. Milk temp (according to internet) should be between 130 and 119 F however i used a thermometer and the finger technique and the finger technique calls for adding yogurt at a higher temp and it still works.
6. Pasteurized milk works fine but ultra-pasturized apparently doesn't work
7. Organic milk seems to yield a thicker yogurt then non organic (or maybe it is my imagination)
8. Whisking in one direction makes the milk thicker. (not sure but i do it anyways)
9. Placing a paper towel or kitchen towel between lid and yogurt to absorb steam makes a thick yogurt as well (I have tried it both ways and this really does work)
Pour your milk into a heavy bottom pan so the milk doesn't burn at the bottom. I used 1% milk here (1/2 gallon) but I used a whole milk yogurt.
So I have been using my yogurt as a starter then I saw this and wanted to show those of you looking for a good yogurt what to look for. Most say all natural (and it is) but read the ingredients all the time because pectin is considered natural.
Gelatin free!!!! and on the side it says LIVE and ACTIVE probiotic cultures...a must. I found this yogurt in my arabic store but any indian grocery stores should carry some kind or natural pectin free yogurt.
This is what I store my yogurt in the fridge because the pan is too big plus I need it to cook.
Around 2 tablespoons of yogurt (more won't hurt)
Whisk it so that there are no lumps and so that it blends into the milk evenly
Boil the milk
As soon as it starts puffing up remove it or else you will have boiled milk EVERYWHERE and it is not fun to clean.
Pour it into your clean storing container. (the hot milk sterilizes the stainless steel bowl)
Let the milk cool whisking it often so that more steam is released and so that a skin doesn't form. As long as there are bubbles then a sin shouldn't form. To test to see if the milk is cool enough (at least 30 min) place your CLEAN finger into the milk, when you are able to leave it there for 10 seconds (even though it burns) then it is safe to add the yogurt. I was worried in the beginning because I have a high tolerance for heat but even my hands of steal worked fine.
Pour in the yogurt and whisk it so it is all incorporated (try to whisk in one direction)
Cover the container with a lid (I place either a piece of paper towel or a kitchen towel under the lid but not touching the yogurt so that the steam doesn't fall on the yogurt and make it watery.) Paper towel not shown here but I did use it.
Cover with a clean towel and either put it in the over or leave it in the corner somewhere where it wont be moved. It needs to incubate for 4 hours at least and maximum 12 hours. The 12 hour incubation makes a more sour yogurt (although the whole milk that was incubated for 12 hours was not that sour however the skim milk incubated for 12 hours was very sour) I use only for hours and then remove the towel and stick it into the fridge.
This is what the yogurt looks like after 4 hours, it should all be in one piece. If for some reason it is still watery then let it incubate for 2 more hours at least.
This is nice thick creamy smooth yogurt. As the whey (greenish thick water) forms I just pour it off and the yogurt stays thick. You can save the whey and use it in smoothies and stuff, it is really good for you.

Written Recipe:
Milk (I prefer 1% or higher)
2 tablespoons of yogurt sans pectin


  1. Maysa, once you make homemade laban, you'll NEVER go back!!!
    I LOVE your idea of putting a paper towel under the lid!!! I hate how there's always water when I open it up. Will try that next time!

    Jawad likes his laban VERY 7amud, so I leave it for a good 12 hours out, and my mom says you shouldn't use it before it sets for 24 hours in the fridge.
    I only ever use vit D milk - how's the 1% taste?? If it's not bad maybe I'll start using that or 2% to be less fatty.. sometimes I even add Half&Half, it makes it even thicker :P

    And when I don't have any leftover laban, I use Dannon PLAIN yogurt.. it's worked well with me so far.

    sry for the essay, lol

  2. Seriously, ever since i started making yogurt i have become such a laban snob. The Dannon works the same?
    I like my laban hamud too but i have Oussama who doesnt like it sour at all so i eat it the way he likes...honestly when i made the yogurt with 1% and 2% i couldnt tell the difference between them and whole milk...but you can definetly tell with skim milk

  3. Okay, keep your fingers crossed! I followed your steps to the letter; InshaAllah, I will be lucky and enjoy a creamy yogurt like yours for today's Iftar.
    Thank you, for posting it.

  4. How did it turn out? Once i made homemade yogurt I just can't buy it anymore, it tastes so much better at home

  5. I use UHT (long life) milk for all my yogurt and it works fine. It means I don't have to boil the milk beforehand. I just add the yogurt I kept back from the last batch to a small amount of the milk, whisk it to distribute, add the remaining milk and then incubate. My electric yogurt maker keeps it at 40 degrees centigrade, and it sets within 6 hours.

    If I want to make lactose free or nut milk yogurt, I add 30 grams of powdered glucose to a litre of the milk, and then follow the same inoculation and incubation process.