You may be wondering why on earth you would want to make your own Labneh at home.
Well, I’m glad you asked!
Allow me to enlighten you:
1- It is delicious
2- It is STUPIDLY easy
3- All you need is one, very available and cheap ingredient. Seriously, just one.
4- It is a million times cheaper than buying store-bought Labneh. Ok maybe not a million, but close.
5- You can have glorious Labneh even if it is hard to find or nonexistent in the country you live in.
6- You can brag about it to your friends/family. I encourage this immensely.
7- You can feel all smug and accomplished, even though all you did was basically dump some yoghurt into a sieve.
I rest my case.
If you have never had Labneh before, then I am here to tell you; you need some Labneh in your life. It is a thing of absolute beauty, SO versatile and tasty and goes with just about everything as far as I’m concerned.
The good news is that the process of making it could not possibly be simpler; you pour natural full-fat yoghurt into a sieve lined with cheesecloth (or a clean cotton kitchen towel if you cannot find cheesecloth, or even a few layers of medical gauze from a pharmacy will work!).
You tie up the cloth and just let it drip away in the fridge for as long as you like over a large bowl.
Voila; you have Labneh. It cannot conceivably get any easier than this, can it?
Let it drain in the fridge for 8-14 hours and you have this ultra soft, smooth & tangy spread. Leave it for 24-48 hours and you have a thicker, firmer Labneh, similar to the consistency of cream cheese. If you strain it for longer, say 48-72 hours, it becomes yoghurt cheese, which is usually rolled into small balls, coated with herbs/spices and stored in olive oil to be served as mezze or part of a cheese platter with crackers.
TIP: straining the plain yoghurt for just a couple of hours will give you Greek-style yoghurt! Which isn’t easy to come byt in places like Egypt.
If you go with the softer Labneh, which is my personal favourite stage of all three, the possibilities are endless. I love spreading it on toast and drizzling with honey or really good homemade jam (like this or this), using it as a spread in sandwiches and wraps, dolloping it onto baked eggs, serving it with roast vegetables or meats, sweetening it with some honey & vanilla and using in desserts, mashing it with some avocado and dukkah, drizzling it generously with olive oil and using it as a dip/scooping it up with soft pita bread…I think I’ll stop now, you get the picture!
(the recipe for that KILLER low-sugar plum jam can be found here)
In any case, you obviously can’t go wrong when it comes to Labneh. It simply cannot happen. Delicious, effortless creaminess is ALWAYS guaranteed.
- • 1kg natural plain full-fat yoghurt (not greek)
- • pinch of salt
- Place a large sieve over a large bowl. Line with 2-3 layers of cheesecloth. If you cannot find cheesecloth, you can use a clean cotton tea-towel or several layers of cotton medical gauze from a pharmacy (‘shash’ in Arabic).
- Add the salt to the yoghurt and stir until smooth. Pour into the prepared sieve. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth together, twist and tie securely with string or one of those twisty plastic-wires used to tie plastic bags and let it rest into the sieve. Cover the top of the bowl & sieve with cling film just so nothing falls into it & it doesn’t pick up any odours from the fridge.
- Leave the whole setup in the fridge to allow the whey to drip out of the yoghurt. The longer you leave it to drain, the thicker the Labneh. 8-14 hours will give you a soft-strained labneh. 24-48 hours will give you a thicker cream-cheese-like labneh. 48-72 hours will result in a much firmer yoghurt cheese which you can roll into small balls using oiled hands, coat with herbs/spices of choice and store in a jar of olive oil.
- Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. The labneh balls stored in oil would last much longer, up to a month.
• Draining the yoghurt for only a couple of hours will give you Greek-style yoghurt! Which isn't easy to come by in places like Egypt.