How to Make Labneh Cheese"I found this nice recipe online and tried it...it is so simple! I have updated this post with my own photos. Enjoy!" Maika This is a simple and easy fresh cheese originating from the Middle East. It looks lovely, it tastes great and it's healthy, spreadable and inexpensive. Moreover, it is easy to make. This recipe will make approximately 12 oz. of labneh cheese. Ingredients
- 500g/17 oz plain full fat yogurt or soy yogurt, purchased or make your own
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (if you'd rather have a sweet version, use 3 tablespoons of superfine/caster sugar instead of the salt)
- Flavorings/spices: crushed coriander or cumin seeds, citrus zest, pinch dried chilli, fresh herbs finely chopped, vanilla paste, chopped dried fruits, etc. (Optional)
Steps 1/ Cut a large square of cheesecloth or muslin (calico) (around 15 inches or 38cm in diameter). Rinse the cheesecloth or muslin and line a colander or sieve with it. Ensure that excess cloth hangs over the edges; you'll be using this to tie up with. You can also use a large paper coffee filter for this, but it takes a little longer than cheesecloth. 2 / Place the lined colander or sieve over a suitably sized mixing bowl. Alternatively, use a jelly stand if you have one. 3 / Pour the yogurt into another mixing bowl. Add the salt (or sugar). If using flavorings or spices, add at this stage. Anything added should be completely stirred through. Traditionalists enjoy this cheese extremely pungent, so adding spices is usual. Experiment with different mixes to find what works best for you. If you'd rather add the spices or flavorings later, see below.
"I usually buy a standard yoghurt at Jenny Lou or April Gourmet and will use the content of one box." 4 / Empty the mixed yogurt on top of the cheesecloth. It's best spooned in, to save splashing mess. 5 / Bring up the sides and tie tightly with string, leaving a length of string to tie up so the bag will hang and drip into the bowl placed beneath the bag.
"How I do...it's a little ghetto but it works!" 6 / Place a weight on top of the tied-up bag. The easiest thing to use is a small plate with a can placed on top. It doesn't need to be that heavy. You can also choose to leave the weight off and let the cheese come together with gravity. Wrap it in a cheesecloth, tie it off with twine, let hang it in the kitchen over a bowl. 7 / Place the container in a cool place for at least 15 hours. Purists leave the cheese out in a cool room to drip into a sink. However, if your kitchen or storage area isn't very cool, to minimize the risk of bacteria or mold, place the cheese mixture into the refrigerator. The cheese can be left for 1-2 days, until the desired consistency is reached. The longer that the cheese is left, the firmer it becomes. The process can be sped up by squeezing the cheesecloth/muslin to force the excess water out.
"A photo of my Labneh after a night in the fridge"
8 / Remove from refrigerator. Unwrap the cheese and drain any excess liquid (there is usually some); this is the "whey", while the remaining cheese is the "curds." Reserve the drained liquid and turn the cheese onto a plate or into a bowl. At this stage, you can add fresh herbs or dried fruit by whisking/beating this through the cheese. Obviously this will change the consistency and shape of the cheese, so be sure you wish to do this at this stage. 9 / Store in the refrigerator, covered. Placing plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cheese keeps it fresher. This cheese will keep for up to 4 days when chilled and covered. For longer keeping, roll the cheese into small balls. Place the balls into a sterilized jar and cover with extra virgin olive oil. Add some rosemary or thyme stalks and some spice seeds such as coriander. Leave to marinate; it should be allowed to marinate for at least 1 day before eating. Store in the refrigerator and use within a week or two.
" After a day of marination, the Labneh became dramatically creamier! The taste was deeper, infused with the rich fragrance of thyme and olive oil together with sel de Guerande ."
10 / Serve. The cheese is for spreading and goes well with fresh bread and on crackers. It's also enjoyable on its own, added to a platter of dips and crudités and as a topping for steamed vegetables.
"I like my Labneh to literally bathe in olive oil so I can soak my bread in it! I would add any spice that I have in my kitchen such as Paprika powder, cumin powder, additional sea salt and pepper and crushed pistachios."
"I grown my own thyme. You can find this herb at any flower market for 10-15rmb, it's easy to grow indoors, and you can use it in so many dishes!"