Homemade Yogurt (Laban)
I remember as a child watching my Mom make homemade yogurt.
This is her making it when I visited Tennessee.
She had this awful orange colored yogurt maker that held 6 cups of yogurt and kept the Homemade Yogurt warm while it incubated. We would eat that stuff like it was candy.
If you are Lebanese you will probably know what I am talking about. We eat it with pita, kibbeh, grape leaves, for breakfast, mixed into a cucumber salad and list goes on. Yogurt is the “ketchup that you dip your fries in.” I can eat plain yogurt with nothing in it..actually I prefer my yogurt that way which a lot of people can’t stand (it can have a tart flavor).
Fast forward years later ..my Mom decided to give the orange yogurt maker to Goodwill. This brings us to 2012 and my one year old son. I try my hardest to keep the foods he eats healthy, wholesome and also try to eliminate as much processed stuff as I can (those ingredients you can’t pronounce). He loves yogurt but as I started buying it week after week the amount of sugar and other ingredients started to really bother me. The cost of buying the organic, no sugar yogurt seemed a little ridiculous when I can make my own Homemade Yogurt .
I remembered as a child all of that yogurt that my Mom made us in her kitchen. She knew exactly what she was putting in it and could control the fat, the ingredients and what fruit or sugar was in it. That’s it, I thought! The solution to my yogurt dilemma (yes, I know, some people may think that is a pretty lame dilemma…but controlling the sugar and weird ingredients is important to me!).
When I went home to visit my parents my Mom taught me how to make homemade yogurt the way that she has been making it for years. I found it surprisingly easy, not to mention you only need two ingredients–the starter and the milk.
You only need 2 ingredients (can’t beat that):
- 4 cups of 2 % or whole milk (We used 2%, skim milk creates a very thin yogurt with not as much flavor.)
- 3 tbsp. of plain yogurt or 3 tbsp. starter (We used Stonyfield’s plain low fat or regular yogurt. I do not recommend using non-fat yogurt as a starter as you want it to have some fat in it. Try to buy the freshest yogurt possible that have live and active cultures. Other brands that you could use are Dannon, Fage or whatever your preference is. See the tip section at the end if you would prefer to buy a starter instead of store bought yogurt.)
Other things you will need for making Homemade Yogurt:
- Towels to keep container of yogurt warm
- Large container with lid
- Large pot
- Measuring cup
- Stirring spoon
Now that you have everything that you will need here’s how to make your own yogurt:
Pour 4 cups milk into pot and bring to just below a simmer, you will begin to see foam when it is close to being done. Make sure you are stirring constantly (set to medium high and it should take about 10-15 minutes to get to a simmer depending on your stove). You do not want it to boil- if it starts boiling remove immediately (it will scold the bottom of the pan and milk if left on too long).
Remove the heated milk from heat and let cool until the temperature drops to 120 degrees or when you can hold your finger in the milk to the count of 10 comfortably (you can use a thermometer like below).
This can take a good 40 minutes for the milk to cool or longer depending on the temperature of your house (you will begin to see a layer of foam forming).
Put the 3 tbsp. of the starter yogurt (Stonyfield in this case) into a mixing bowl. Mix several tablespoons of the warm milk with the starter yogurt and mix until a smooth paste. Add paste to the remainder of the warm milk and stir it in gently.
Pour the mixture into an enamel or porcelain bowl, cover with a lid or plate and wrap a towel (in summer) or blanket or two towels (in winter) around it and allow to stand in warm place for 4-12 hours hours or until set (we let it sit overnight, you will know if it is set because it will be firm on the top of the yogurt).
These are the towels cover the container with the yogurt..we used two towels and put it in the corner of the kitchen where we knew it would stay warm.
- When we made the Homemade Yogurt we did not have a starter so we used 3 tbsp. of Stonyfield plain yogurt. If you have a starter use that. Here is some I found online:
- The longer the yogurt sits the better it will taste (in our humble opinion). You can cover and let sit for 3-4 hours but we let it sit overnight. My Mom has also let the yogurt set (incubate) in the oven.
- Once you make your yogurt you can set a small amount aside in a container to use as a starter for your next batch of your yogurt and keep doing this with each batch.
- The taste of the yogurt will vary according to the age of the starter. If the starter was refrigerated for a week or more the yogurt will be tart. If the starter is fresh it will be sweeter.
Please email me with any questions or leave a comment below! I was very intimated the first time I made yogurt but it gets easier the more you make it.