2 1/2 qts whole milk (skim or any other percentage is also fine)
Starter (1 carton plain yogurt if it's your first time making the recipe)
Fill a container to within about a half inch of the top. Place in microwave uncovered. Heat milk 26 minutes on power 8. Temperature should be between 190 -212 ° F. (If you have a container that holds a gallon, you can heat for 52 minutes on power 8.)
After heating, check temperature with candy thermometer. Leave thermometer in milk and let it sit for an hour or more until the temperature of milk drops to 120 ° F. Remove skim from milk.
The first time you make the yogurt, use a small carton of plain yogurt from the grocery store for starter. After that you can use some from your last batch. Add a few tablespoons of the warm milk to the starter and stir until smooth. Add starter back to warm milk and stir. Put lid on container and wrap the whole container in a large towel or small blanket. Leave on the counter away from drafts to cool for 24 hours. If you want the yogurt to be less tart, then leave on counter for 12 hours.
After 24 hours, the milk should be very thick. (If for any reason, the milk is not thick, then you can reheat just to 120 ° F and cool as described above.) Remove 3 or 4 tablespoons from the finished yogurt and put in container in refrigerator to use as starter for next batch.
You may want to enjoy the laban just as it is. You can also make Labni (yogurt cheese.) Line a colander with round coffee filters (the commercial size is bigger and works a little better, but the regular size is OK.) Pour the yogurt in the colander lined with filters and sit colander inside of larger bowl and place in refrigerator. Pour liquid out of bowl several times for the next 24-48 hours till the yogurt is the thickness that you like it.
After it is thick, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and enjoy with pita or crackers or toast.
Your laban can be used in place of mayonnaise or sour cream in recipes. For a sweet treat, add preserves or honey or agave nectar to an individual serving.
Recipes courtesy of Lynda Mack Robinson.