Labneh is one of my (new) favorite things to make! It is so delicious, easy to make and eat. It is wonderful nutrient dense "fast food" which I tend to look for when heat approaches. It is cultured food (always a plus) and fun to take to gatherings to share. A friend shared this with me when we gathered for Matzah and I couldn't wait to get home and make it myself! It is a simple yogurt cheese, store in (optionally flavored) olive oil. This is delicious spread on crackers or bread; Served with vegies as a dip; blended into pasta or rice as a sauce; topped on a grilled meat; served on a salad; or with fresh apples or pears! It is versital and the seasoning options are endless.
Plain Yogurt or kiefer (homemade, or store bought)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt (to taste)
Herbs of choice (optional)
1. Take a gerneroously sized, clean flour sack, tea towel, or several layers of cheese cloth and lay in a bowl. Plop your yogurt in the center off the cloth and gether it up and tie the top to make something that resembles a "hobo sack". (In times when my cloth was too small to tie well, I used rubber bands to close it.) Now you will hang the sack and let the yogurt drip the whey into a bowl below. You can do this many differnt ways, depending the tools you have available in your kitchen. I like to set my spoon accross a gallon jar and let it drip. There have been other times where I tied the sack to a upper cupboard handle and place a bowl underneath. You want to keep your sack from sitting in the whey that drips out, so you need it to hang a few inches above the bottom of your dip container. Some yogurt is "wetter" than others, so the amount of whey varies. It is finished when it stops dripping. (Usually a couple hours - but its ok to leave it over night - the cheese will get a little tangierof you leave it longer.)
2. In the mean time, take a jar and fill it 1/3 full of olive oil. If you want to season it - now is the time. Suggestions for seasons are: Garlic, onion, sundried tomato, pesto, hot pepper of choice, red pepper flakes, basil, (and green herb of blend of choice).
3. When the cheese stops dripping, take it down and open up your cloth, you will have a nice lcheese ball. I like to take a small melon baller, dip it in the oil (if needed) and scoop it in the cheese to make a little ball. Then drop it in the oil. I do this until it all distributed in balls in the jar. The cheese is delecate and spreadable soft cheese. If you don't have a melon baller, just use a tea spoon. Yu want the balls to be covered in oil. So when yua re finished, if they are not, top the cheese with oils, so that they are immersed. The oils helps keep the balls seperate too. So as you are filling your jar, if you run out of oil, you may choose to add a little as you go, so that you are always dropping them in oil instead of stacking them directly on each other.
4. Store the cheese in the fridge. The oil does harden when cold (as seen in my photo) and it nicer when served with the oil "wet". So pull it out of the fridge about 15 minutes (give or take, depending on how warm it is in the room) before planning to offer it.
- 1 pint of yogurt fits spaciously in a quart jar with oil and seasonings. Keep that ratio in mind, with the amounts you choose to make.
- I like to use a long handled tea spoon for serving the balls. Be sure serve with some oil and herbs.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil is not cheap, but it has the best flavor and the best health benefits. So don't waste it. Use the left over oil and make another batch of cheese.
- I have not tried this yet,but a good virgin pressed coconut oil would be fun to try. Especially if you wanted to try a sweeter version instead of a savory to go with jam on toast or make a danish or sweat bagel shmear or something. I think this would convert very nicely in that direction as well!