Labneh, or labna, is a Lebanese-style soft cheese. It is one of the easiest (arguably the easiest) cheeses to make at home. The optional herbs add flavor and color.
Labneh has a consistency like cream cheese but fewer calories and a slightly tangier flavor. Shaped into balls and covered in olive oil (the traditional way to store this cheese), labneh will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Straining time: 24 hours
Total Time: 24 hours, 10 minutes
Yield: 1 pint
1 quart/1 liter yogurt
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste (optional)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme, mint, parsley or chives (optional)
- 1 pint/500 ml extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
- Large bowl
- Cheesecloth, muslin bag, or paper coffee filters
- 1 clean pint or 500 ml glass jar with lid
Place the colander over a large bowl. Line the colander with the cheesecloth, muslin bag, or paper coffee filters. Spoon in the yogurt.
Leave the yogurt to drain for 24 hours, refrigerated for a milder flavor or at room temperature for a tangier labneh.
The liquid that separates out into the bowl is whey. You can use it to kickstart lacto-fermented pickles, especially if you want to reduce or eliminate the amount of salt in them. Whey will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Mix the salt, pepper and herbs if using into the yogurt.
You can spoon the labneh as is into jars or containers and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. For longer storage, use the traditional oil-preserved method below.
Lightly coat your hands with olive oil. Scoop up a scant tablespoon of labneh and gently shape it into a ball. The labneh will be soft, but you should still be able to shape it into a ball that holds together.
Place the labneh balls carefully into clean, dry glass jars. Pour the extra-virgin olive oil over the labneh. For decoration and extra flavor you can tuck in a few sprigs of fresh herbs as you add the labneh and oil.
Lightly tap the jars on the side to release any air bubbles. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
Enjoy your labneh as a spread on hearty bread or crackers. The leftover oil makes an excellent dipping sauce for bread, especially if you added sprigs of fresh herbs to the jars.