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How to make Labneh (yogurt cheese) ~ this exciting recipe is a method of making cheese from yogurt! It is a staple food of the Middle East and is incredibly rich and creamy. I love rolling it up into balls and storing it in olive oil with aromatics like lemon and herbs ~ it's an exotic but super easy and healthy Mediterranean snack or appetizer. If you've never made cheese before, this is where you start!
Note ~ this is the first part of a two part series … don't miss Monday's post on how to turn your labneh cheese into one of the freshest, most beautiful (and delicious) snacks I've ever made!
Meet my new obsession, labneh. Labneh is a super simple fresh cheese from the Middle East, you will be amazed at how easy it is to prepare. All you have to do to make this deliciously creamy cream is drain plain yogurt. That's. Squeeze out the excess liquid (whey) from the yogurt and you are left with … cheese! It is completely magical how this process transforms plain yogurt into a silky cheese.
I can't wait to show you exactly how to do it. I will also show you how to roll the cheese into balls that you can keep in olive oil for appetizers, sandwiches, salads, etc. Let us begin!
How to make labneh (or fresh yogurt cheese) ~
- Place a mesh strainer over a large bowl. You want several inches of space between the bottom of the bowl and the bottom of the strainer.
- Cover the strainer with a fine mesh nylon mesh bag (or 2 layers of gauze). I love using nylon knitting bags instead of gauze because they last forever and are much easier to clean than gauze. Just rinse and add the regular wash. They can be used over and over again.
- Place a 24-ounce tub of plain yogurt in the lined strainer. I like to use whole milk yogurt, without flavors or additives. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
- Lift the bag and twist it tightly around the yogurt (you can use a clip if you like). Put a small plate on top and then weigh it down with something heavy like a can or brick. Put it in the fridge for 24 hours. Make sure the yogurt is on top of the drained liquid. The more you let it drain, the thicker the cheese will become. It can last up to 48 hours, but mine was fine in 24.
- Take the labneh out of the bag and discard the serum. (You can use the whey for baking or cooking if you like.)
When done, the labneh will be thick and spreadable like a soft cream cheese. When you try it, you will see that your homemade labneh has the super silky feel of soft goat cheese. You can spread it on toast for breakfast, serve it as part of an appetizer or mezze platter, or accompany it with a wonderful salad.
As for the flavor, I think it is more subtle than goat cheese, and spicier and more interesting than cream cheese, it is the perfect hybrid!
Once you have removed the cheese from the mesh bag or cheesecloth, stir well to remove any fabric marks and make it creamier.
You are now ready to store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. I like to roll it into balls and cover it with olive oil, it's a convenient and tasty way to store them and makes it easy to take as many or as many as needed.
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How to make labneh cheese balls ~
- Cheese rolls into 1-inch balls. I like to lightly oil my hands so that the cheese becomes nice and smooth. Drop the balls into a clean jar.
- Once you've finished rolling up all the cheese, fill the jar with olive oil. This will keep the cheese soft and fresh for a week.
- You can add aromatics to the oil if you like, I added strips of lemon zest and fresh thyme.
- When you're done eating your labneh, you can use the cooking oil or salad dressings, so don't waste, don't want.
At first I was worried that the labneh would disintegrate in the oil, but I was surprised at how it kept its shape even after marinating for days. This is important because you are going to want to use these balls intact, whether as a snack, salad, etc.
How to make labneh cheese
A fun, easy and healthy homemade labneh, or Middle Eastern yogurt cheese. Use it as a snack, in salads, or as a protein-rich snack.
Appetizer course, cheese
Middle eastern cuisine
- 24 ounces whole milk yogurt without additives or flavors
- pinch of salt
- olive oil
- grated lemon
- fresh thyme leaves
Place a mesh strainer over a large bowl. The bowl should be deep enough so that there is at least a few inches of space between the bottom of the bowl and the strainer.
Line the strainer with a fine mesh nylon bag (or 2 layers of gauze). I like nylon bags instead of gauze because they last forever and are much easier to clean. They can be rinsed and washed over and over again.
Turn the yogurt into the lined strainer. Sprinkle with a little salt.
Pull the fabric up around the yogurt and twist it tightly so the liquid begins to drip into the bowl (you can use a clip if you want to keep it tight). Put a small plate on top and then smooth it out with a brick or heavy can. Put it in the fridge for 24 hours. Check it once or twice to make sure it's draining. If not, increase the pressure and make sure the yogurt is in the liquid. The more you let it drain, the thicker the cheese will become. It can last up to 48 hours, but generally 24 hours is enough.
Take the labneh out of the bag and discard the serum. (You can use the whey for baking or cooking if you like.)
Now you have two options … you can put your labneh in an airtight container and refrigerate it as is, or you can roll it into balls. To roll into balls, roll 1-inch balls between your palms. I like to lightly oil my hands, this seems to make the surface of the cheese nice, smooth and shiny. Put the balls in a clean jar.
When you have rolled all the cheese, fill the jar with olive oil, enough to cover all the balls.
It will keep refrigerated for about a week.
Serving: 1g | Calories: 20kcal
Make your own homemade labneh cheese ~
- Go vegan ~ I haven't tried this, but I guess you can use non-dairy yogurt to make labneh. The only problem would be finding a yogurt without flavors or additives.
- Make it slimmer ~ use low-fat or even fat-free yogurt.
- Make it submersible ~ if you want to use your labneh as a simple dip, like hummus, just drain for less time. The resulting cheese will be delicious and delicious. Top with a swirl of great olive oil, a pinch of herbs, and soak in warm pita.
How to make Labneh Cheese and yogurt