What is it? Soft Cheese. What’s brilliant about it? You can make it in your refrigerator at home, and all you need is a pot of yoghurt and some patience.
Labneh is Middle-Eastern, but the concept of this cheese or ‘strained yoghurt’ is found all over the world in varying consistencies and by names such as Labnah, Chakka, Suzma and Zabedi.
Labneh is made by simply straining the yoghurt to remove the whey.
To make it at home, you’ll need some muslin/calico/cheesecloth, a sieve or colander, a bowl for it to rest over, and a little salt.
I buy a 600ml pot of natural yoghurt – you choose the fat content – and then stir in about half a teaspoon of salt. I’m into using Maldon or Himalayan salt these days as it has better qualities than regular table salt.
Line your sieve with the cloth and pour in the salted yoghurt. Tie it up and pop it in the fridge over a bowl. Make sure the bowl is deep enough that the cheese will sit above the whey.
The longer you strain it for, the firmer the cheese will become. I tend to leave it for about 24 hours.
The result is a rich, creamy, slightly sour and deliciously tangy soft cheese.
I’m pleased to say it’s my new favourite thing, and I’m not even a massive fan of yoghurt! It goes insanely well with Harissa and flatbreads.
If you like, you can add spices into the mix to flavour the Labneh, or if you make it relatively firm, it can be shaped and either rolled in fresh herbs or stored under extra virgin olive oil. I like the idea of using Za’atar or Sumac.
Have a go and experiment to find your favourite.
I would really recommend hanging onto the whey; I use it to make bread with spectacular results. Just replace some of the water with the protein-rich whey you’ve collected. It works wonders in a bread machine if you’re not into baking by hand.
Really, I should make the yoghurt myself… perhaps that will be the next blog post.