It’s funny how we take some foods at home for granted, and only realise how much we miss them when we live abroad for a while. For me, Labneh is exactly that.
Labneh is type of soft cheese popular in The Middle East. In Israel, where I grew up, it is just one of these things that you would always have in your fridge or in the breakfast buffet. You can find it there in every supermarket.
It’s made by straining yogurt. As simple as that. You just strain yogurt of it’s liquids until the desired thickness is achieved, and there you go – you have cheese.
To those who never had it, I could only describe it tangier, more complex and healthier type of cream cheese. It also only has half the fat, and it’s full of protein and healthy probiotics that boost your immune system.
Why I like about making it at home vs buying (besides the fact that you can’t find it in a normal supermarket in Berlin :D) is that you have total control of what goes inside and the outcome. No chemicals or preservatives added, only the good stuff.
YOU decide how salty, sour of even how thick you want it. After straining overnight, the consistency will be similar to cream cheese. After two days, the cheese will get thick enough to be shaped into little balls of goodness that you can preserve in olive oil and some Za’atar if you like.
Labneh will keep in the fridge up to two weeks.
Makes: about 1 cup
Time: 5 min + straining overnight (8hrs)
750g full fat yogurt, such as greek yogurt
3/4 – 1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 – 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Prepare: Transfer the yogurt into a medium bowl. Add about 3/4 – 1 tsp fine salt and 1/2 – 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice. It’s important to try it – you want it to be a bit salty, not bland. It’s up to you how much lemon juice you want to add, I like mine quite lemony so you can actually taste the lemon, some prefer it more neutral. Mix well.
Strain: Transfer the yogurt mix into a fine a sieve or cheese cloth. If using a cheese cloth, you can tie it above the sink and put a bowl under. Let it strain overnight. During the summer it’s better to keep in the fridge.
Because I make it so often, I use a special container that just makes things easier. I really recommend it for when you become a pro like me 😎
Good morning! Your cheese is ready. Open your cheese cloth, see if has the consistency that you want and taste it. Add more salt or lemon to your taste and let it strain longer if you’d like it to be thicker (it should look something like the images below). Once ready, transfer the Labneh into a container to keep in the fridge.
Or, if you prefer a thicker consistency, you can strain the Labneh for as long as two days, then roll it into balls about 2.5 cm thick, put them in jar preserve in olive oil and some Za’atar if you like. This will allow the Labneh to last months in your fridge.
Serve: The simplest way to serve Labneh is as a dip or a spread with some Za’atar and olive oil.
You can also serve it with something sweet, like jam or fruit, or combine with various dishes such as salads, roasted cauliflower or other veggies, fish, or soups.