Labneh is a soft cheese from the Middle East made by draining yogurt that contains added salt. It is often formed into balls after it drains and then preserved in olive oil. It is consumed with a wide variety of foods (honey, olives, in a sandwich, on bread, etc.) depending on the region. It is actually really easy to make at home. Simply put cheesecloth over a colander and then place the colander over a bowl to catch the liquid (a.k.a whey) from the draining yogurt. Be sure to use a few layers of cheesecloth that are long enough to cover the top of the yogurt while it drains. The cheesecloth should overlap the colander a few inches on each side. Add the yogurt with salt mixed in to the top of the cheesecloth, cover the yogurt with the overhanging cheesecloth , and put it in the refrigerator to drain for 24 to 48 hours. The longer you let the yogurt drain, the thicker the cheese will become.
The benefit to eating Labneh over other cheeses is that it is typically lower in calories. Two tablespoons of lowfat Labneh will only have about 40 calories. Additionally, it contains probiotics or good bacteria, which have numerous health benefits like aiding the immune system or helping with gastrointestinal problems. Labneh is similar to cream cheese in that it is good spread on bagels, pita, or crackers. To enhance the flavor, garlic, mint, basil, parsley, dill or other herbs can be added after the draining process. It taste tangy with a texture similar to cream cheese.
- 3 cups 2% or full fat Greek yogurt
- 1½ tsp salt
- Herbs optional
- Put a large colander inside a bowl. Add three pieces of cheesecloth inside the colander with a few inches overlapping on each side. Spoon the Greek yogurt into the colander and then stir in the salt. Cover the yogurt with the overlapping cheesecloth. Place in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours to let the Greek yogurt drain. Check the thickness after 24 hours. Add the desired herbs after the draining process is over.
- Note - Be sure the bottom of the Greek yogurt does not touch the draining liquid (whey). An alternative method is to make a bag out of the cheesecloth, which is sealed on top. You can hang the bag over a bowl to let it drain.