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Homemade Labneh

A month or so ago, I did a cooking demo for Stonyfield yogurt, and ended up with 4 quarts of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt, with an aggressively impending expiration date. At first I tried just slipping it into everything: burritos! salad dressing! cornbread! But eventually I had to come to terms with the fact that I would never eat it all fast enough.

Here’s the thing: I cannot waste food. Sure, I can freeze leftovers until they are freezer-burnt beyond edibility, but then I don’t feel bad about throwing them away. I gave it the old college try, I tell myself. Oh, well. It happens to plenty of leftovers. People save them with the best of intentions, and keep them until they are rotten enough that they no longer feel bad about throwing them away.

But not this time. Nope.

I made labneh.

Just take some plain yogurt, mix it with a few pinches of salt and pour it into a cheesecloth or teabag. Hang it up in your refrigerator; you can see my sophisticated rigging system in this photo, using a paperclip and an old twist tie to suspend the bag above the bowl so the whey can drip down. Let this drip for a day or two. Feel free to squeeze it a bit to help, and save the liquid whey for adding protein to other foods like soup or rice.

After two days, you’ll have a ball of what is essentially fromage blanc. You can store this for a couple weeks in a tub in the fridge, and it is wonderful on bagels, or mixed with herbs and stuffed into squash blossoms. Or…

Using a size 30 disher (makes an approximately 1-oz ball) or a spoon and your hands, scoop all of the fresh cheese into little balls and set them a half inch apart on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper or parchment. Put this in the fridge for another day or two so the balls can dry out a bit.

For the short-term, you can store them in tub or jar with a lid, but for long term storage, cover them in olive oil. I’ve seen several sources say that you can store this at room temperature, but I get all wigged out thinking about that, so I just spare the couple inches of shelf space in my fridge and keep it there, where I am told it will last for months. Months.

You can eat this with any mezze, or you can just not make so much that it needs long-term storage in olive oil, and just enjoy it fresh on wasa crisps with the season’s first homemade blueberry-elderflower jam, yĆ¼-shan raspberries from the garden, and a crack of black pepper. But do try your hand at it. These leftovers won’t have time to go bad.