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Making Labneh

Make this, the simplest of cheeses

Making Labneh

recipes | preserving

Labneh (also spelled labaneh is a soft cheese made in the Middle East from strained yoghurt. It is probably the easiest cheese to make requiring very little time and almost no equipment.

Labneh served with olive oil

In order to make labneh all you need is Greek style yoghurt - typically labelled as being 10% fat - and a little salt. Greek yoghurt is rich, thick, and creamy; high in protein, and low in sodium and sugar. In terms of equipment all you need is a strainer/collander, a couple of bowls, a straining cloth (e.g. a clean piece of cheese cloth, muslin, tea towel, or sterile hankerchief), and a whisk or fork.

Pour the yoghurt into a bowl and add salt (just 1-2 teaspoons at most per 500g of yoghurt). Whisk well. Put the straining cloth into strainer ensuring that all of the holes in the strainer are covered by the cloth, and then put the strainer into the second bowl. Pour the salted yoghurt into the cloth.

Straining yoghurt to make labneh

Now lift up the corners of the cloth, and tie them together or hold them tightly together with string or a rubber band. Hang the bag you have made up - for example from a tap with the liquid dripping out and down the drain, or over a bowl if you want to keep the whey. If the weather is warm then it is best to hang the bag inside your refrigerator to keep everything fresh.

The following day, open up the bag and inside you will find labneh - a soft white cheese which you can mould into shape and store in the refrigerator. If you want a harder cheese, twist the corners of the cloth together tightly to squeeze even more liquid out of the yoghurt, and leave it for another 24 hours.

Balls of Labneh

The common way to store labneh is to roll it into small (approx 2cm diameter) balls between wet hands, put them into a sterile jar, and fill the jar with olive oil so that all the labneh balls are completely covered. They can remain in the refrigerator for weeks preserved in that way. You can also add garlic and/or your choice of chopped herbs (typically fresh mint) to the oil to give the labneh additional flavour.

Labneh balls preserved in olive oil in jars

Serving and Eating Labneh

Labneh is usually served with olive oil and pita bread. Press the labneh onto a platter, and pour over a good extra virgin olive oil. Then use toasted pita bread as a scoop to capture the oil and labneh, and eat.

Article Published: 10:31, 23rd Nov 2010

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