My recent cheesemaking spree has yielded results!! My first ever batch of labneh is ready!
Labneh is a fresh cheese of Middle-Eastern origins that is absolutely delicious and VERY easy to make. You can make it with plain yoghurt bought at the supermarket or you can make it from scratch at home, which I recommend as it’s only one more step and will save you a lot of money.
Here’s a photo of my first attempt;
And here’s the recipe;
- Take two litres of regular whole milk and warm it to blood heat like a baby’s bottle (about 32C). Stir in a cup of plain, unflavoured yoghurt – ideally, you’d have saved some from your last batch of labneh yoghurt but as we’re starting from scratch go buy a small tub of Greek-style yoghurt. Put the milk mix in a warm place and leave it for at least 12 hours or until it’s thickened up. I put my big pot on top of the kitchen counter and wrapped it in a pile of towels to keep it insulated but it’s fairly cool here at nights and it took 24 hours to thicken. Skip this step if you’ve making the whole thing with bought yoghurt.
- Line a colander or large dish with fine cheesecloth. I couldn’t find cheesecloth fine enough around here and made do with – of all things – a huge square of nylon shower curtain that I trimmed, hemmed, and bleached. Stir a teaspoon of salt into the yoghurt and then tip it into the colander, let it sit a few minutes and then bring the corners of the cheesecloth together and tie them off into a sort of sling so that you can pick up the mass without losing yoghurt out the sides. I found that a spare pair of hands and a cable-tie was the easiest way of getting this neat but suit yourself.
- You’ll see whey dripping off the bundle immediately – you can either let it go down the plughole or collect it and use it for something (traditionally, it’s pig food, but there’s the health-shake crowd too). Hang the bundle so that it can continue to drain for 24 hours – either in a cool, clean place or in the fridge.
- Form the labneh into small balls about the size of an apricot and put into good quality olive oil along with a few branches of thyme and some crushed gloves of garlic. This will keep quite well in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
- OR the traditional way is to form it into one large mass on a plate with a depression pressed into the top. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with flavourings (dried mint or chilli etc) and serve with pita bread.
See! With a small investment of time and effort, this delicious dish is so easy to make. Milk is quite cheap so have no fear and give it a go!
NOTE: If you’re wondering what to do with labneh once you’ve made a batch, I’ve just finished a quick post here with some suggestions. Cheers!!