Fermented milk products have a long history in Middle Eastern countries (El-Gendy, 1983). Popular products include laban rayeb, labneh (concentrated yogurt), kishk, and zabady. Other regional names for some of these products also exist. Laban rayab is traditionally prepared by pouring unhomogenized whole milk in pots and held at room temperature. Fat rises to the surface and is removed. The defatted milk undergoes a natural fermentation and then is ready for consumption. Variations of this product are laban khad and laban zeer. The former is prepared by allowing milk to ferment in a goat pelt, whereas the latter is made in earthenware pots called zeer which are used for incubation. The season, and hence the temperature, will determine the dominating microflora of these products. Generally, lactococci dominate in the cold season and lactobacilli in the warm season. Laban zeer is used to make another highly nutritious product called kishk. To prepare this product, laban zeer is mixed with wheat grains that have been softened by boiling in water, sun-dried, and ground. The mixture undergoes a 24-h fermentation. The product, now with high viscosity, is divided into small pieces and then sun-dried and stored until consumed. Spices may be added. Kishk, which has approximately 8% moisture and 1.85% acidity, has a shelf life of several years (El-Gendy, 1983).
A concentrated fermented product called labneh that has 7-10% fat is produced in several Arabian countries. It is made at home using traditional procedures as well as on a large scale in dairies. The basic procedure for this product involves concentration of milk after fermentation is completed. For commercial production, skim or whole milk is fermented with yogurt cultures, but strains that produce exopolysaccharides are not used because of the difficulty in removing whey after fermentation (Tamime and Robinson, 1988). The fermented product is then separated with the help of centrifugal separators such as those used in manufacturing quarg. Alternatively, milk is fermented after concentration by ultrafiltration to the desired composition. A traditional product of Egypt similar to labneh is zabady, which is made by fermenting milk that has been concentrated by boiling with thermophilic cultures in porcelain containers (El-Gendy, 1983).
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