A new labneh-style yogurt is local, additive-free and certified kosher.
When John and Angela Fout’s daughter, Savana, turned 6 months old and began to transition to solid foods, the couple faced a dilemma: what to feed her? They both loved yogurt, but when they went to the supermarket to buy some for Savana, the ingredients in all the commercial brands horrified them.
“They are a nightmare,” John said. “Full of sugar and preservatives. And many of those flavored yogurts marketed for children don’t even have live cultures in them.”
So the Fouts turned to what they knew: the thick, tangy Middle Eastern-style strained yogurt that Angela, who is Lebanese, had been making at home for most of her life. With just three ingredients—milk, live cultures and sea salt—this was a yogurt that the couple could feed Savana, now 3, without hesitation. And that made them wonder if there weren’t other families out there looking for the same wholesome snack.
And so the couple began planning Sohha Savory Yogurt, their line of tangy whole-milk labneh that’s now available in New York City farmers markets and at the Fouts’ new stall at the Chelsea Market in Manhattan. Sohha sources its milk in the Hudson Valley from a cooperative of dairy farmers, and adds just those two other ingredients — cultures and salt — that Angela uses at home. The result is a super-smooth, clean-tasting yogurt that was recently certified kosher by KOF-K.
“We wanted everyone to be able to eat our yogurt,” John said of the decision to get certified. “And frankly, it makes good business sense, too. There is a large population of people in New York who like to eat kosher. Not just Jews, but others who are concerned about how their food is produced. Kosher is another level of certification, additional proof that someone is paying attention to how what you eat gets made.”
John recalled that when he called KOF-K to inquire about certification, the rabbi he got on the phone was shocked by the purity of Sohha’s yogurt.
“He asked me, ‘No, seriously, what are your ingredients?’ after I told him about our yogurt. He said we were the only yogurt company he knew of that didn’t use any thickeners or stabilizers,” John said.
The Fouts’ approach to their yogurt, which they make in a commercial kitchen in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, plays a huge part in the couple’s decision to sell their product at local markets, not supermarkets, at least for the time being while they're establishing their brand.
“We don’t want to be just another yogurt container on the shelf,” John said. “We like chatting with people, making friends. I wanted to get our story out there.”
Part of Sohha’s mission—the company’s name means “health” in Arabic—is to educate people about food and nutrition, John said. He and Angela want their customers to know that the yogurt comes from locally-raised, grass-fed cows whose milk is full of Omega-3s and probiotics and free of antibiotics and chemical additives. Selling at the greenmarkets, and at Chelsea Market, facilitates those conversations.
“What you’re getting is food that basically is not processed,” John said.
More information is available at sohhayogurt.com.