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.
- Large bowl
- Cheesecloth, muslin bag, or paper coffee filters
- 1 clean pint (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.
- 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.