Labneh is a Middle Eastern and Mediterranean yogurt-based cheese known for its thick and creamy texture. It is made by straining yogurt to remove the whey, resulting in a product that is thicker and richer than regular yogurt. Labneh can be enjoyed as a dip, spread, or even used as a base for various dishes. Here’s how to make basic labneh at home:
- 2 cups plain yogurt (full-fat or low-fat)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
- Olive oil (for drizzling, optional)
- Fresh herbs, spices, or seasonings for flavor (optional)
- Prepare the Yogurt:
- Start with plain yogurt. You can use either full-fat or low-fat yogurt, depending on your preference. Greek yogurt works well for making labneh due to its thickness.
- Add Salt (Optional):
- If desired, add a pinch of salt to the yogurt for flavor. This step is optional and can be adjusted to taste.
- Mix and Transfer:
- In a mixing bowl, stir the salt (if using) into the yogurt until well combined.
- Strain the Yogurt:
- Line a fine-mesh sieve or a colander with a clean cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel. Place the sieve or colander over a deep bowl to catch the whey.
- Pour the Yogurt:
- Pour the yogurt mixture into the lined sieve or colander.
- Cover and Refrigerate:
- Gather the edges of the cheesecloth or towel and cover the yogurt. Place the entire setup in the refrigerator to allow the whey to drain from the yogurt.
- Drain and Wait:
- Let the yogurt strain in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, or overnight, for a thicker consistency. The longer you strain it, the thicker the labneh will become.
- Transfer and Season (Optional):
- Once the labneh has reached your desired thickness, transfer it to a serving dish. You can season it with fresh herbs, spices, or seasonings of your choice, such as olive oil, chopped fresh mint, black pepper, or even crushed garlic.
- Labneh can be served as a dip with pita bread, vegetables, or chips. It’s also delicious as a spread on toast or as a base for wraps and sandwiches. Drizzling a bit of olive oil on top adds richness and flavor.
- Any leftover labneh can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Labneh is a versatile and creamy dairy product that can be adapted to suit various tastes. You can enjoy it in both savory and sweet applications, making it a versatile addition to your culinary repertoire.