Labneh is a soft cheese made from strained, full fat yogurt. Popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, labneh can be made to whatever consistency you like. Shorter straining time makes for a soft cream cheese perfect for dips and spreads. Or let it go longer to make a firmer cheese that you can slice. Add lemon, salt or any spices you like, You can even make a sweet version. Here’s the basic method for a firm, cake-like labneh:
2 cups full fat Greek yogurt
1 tsp of salt (optional & to taste)
Zest of 1 lemon
herbs, spices. etc (optional)
fine muslin or cheesecloth
Between 2 & 3 days before you plan to serve the labneh, lay a piece of fine muslin or cheesecloth (folded over several times to create a tight weave) over a sieve over a large bowl.
In a smaller bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon zest, salt, and herbs or spices. Mix well.
Gather the corners of the cloth together and tie off to create a little bundle of yogurt. You can hang the yogurt in a cool, safe place—away from pets or accidental bumps. Or leave in the cloth lined sieve over the bowl. You can do this in a fridge if you like, but it’s not necessary. Room temperature is totally fine.
To speed up the process, after a day you can place a fermenting weight or a rock on a small plate over top of the cloth-covered yogurt in the sieve.
After the 2nd day, test for consistency. If you’re happy with the texture, go ahead and serve it. Store any left-over cheese in the fridge for several days.
Save the liquid or whey for cooking.
*Tip: To create a lovely design on the top of your labneh, before adding the yogurt, line the muslin or cheesecloth with herbs or edible flowers. Unwrap your finished cheese the reveal your beautifully adorned creation!