Labneh is a traditional Lebanese soft cheese that’s a brilliant addition to the zero waste home as it can be made from homemade pot-set yoghurt. You can use it like a tangy cream cheese, like a dip, a spread, or as part of an antipasto platter. In our house, it’s called ‘poor man’s goats cheese’, as the flavour profile is similarly tangy and we use it like that famous marinated goat’s feta that costs you an arm and a leg. If asked to describe the flavour, we’d say it’s like an excellent tzatziki without the cucumber.
It takes a few days from start to finish, but there’s very little work involved and it’s dead-simple to make, so it’s worth giving it a try at least once.
- Homemade or pot-set/Greek yoghurt – 1L will give you around 500-600g of labneh
- Oil – Olive oil and sunflower/canola oil (optional)
- Herbs/spices/dukkah/chopped dried fruit (all optional)
- Add a bit of salt to your yoghurt. We work on 1/2tsp to 1L. Mix well.
- Scald (sterilise) a teatowel, muslin square or clean linen teatowel by submersing in boiling water for a couple of minutes then quickly drip-drying.
- Line a colander with scalded teatowel and place over a deep bowl.
- Pour yoghurt into lined colander. Allow liquid whey to drip from yoghurt for 24-72 hours.
And that’s it! The thickened salted yoghurt you’re left with in the colander is labneh. The longer you leave it, the thicker it will become. If you choose to leave it for longer than 24 hours, pop it in the fridge in it’s colander-bowl setup until you’re happy. If you want it to drip a bit quicker, add gravity into the mix by tying the teatowel/cloth into a ball around the yoghurt and suspend from something high above the bowl.
You can serve it after 24 hours as a lovely thick dip in a bowl, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice – maybe scattered with fresh herbs or dukkah – and enjoy it with crusty bread or crackers.
If you want it to keep for several months, let it drip for 3 days until it’s really firm, then roll it into balls, shove them in a sterilised jar, and cover with oil. Add spices and herbs if you want: we chucked in some garlic, peppercorns and fresh basil (don’t add too much fresh greenery though, cos it can lead to harmful spoilage. A few small leaves are generally fine).
As olive oil solidifies in the fridge, we use a combo of olive oil and sunflower/canola oil to cover our labneh, because it allows us to scoop out a couple of balls without waiting for the whole jar to come to room temp. If you make sure all ‘bits’ are submerged in oil and the jar rim is kept clean, these frugal fancy soft cheeses can last for upwards of 6 months in the fridge.
* Pour off as much whey as possible before straining
* Straining from a greater height seems to yield better results
* More whey comes out than you could imagine
* Mixing salt into yoghurt before straining allows you to get a better thickness
* Don’t stir the strained yoghurt: it becomes runny and impossible to roll into balls
* If adding fresh herbs (or rolling balls of labneh in herbs), don’t chop them in a blender – it makes them bitter
– Make more!!!
Permaculture Principle 2: Catch & store energy; 3: Obtain a yield; 6: Produce no waste;
Take a look at some of our recipes for using your homemade yoghurt…