Homemade Labneh

August 2, 2011

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.

20 Responses to Homemade Labneh

  1. Syd
    August 3, 2011 at 6:51 am

    What a great idea! Did you scoop out a bit to make Tzatziki?

    BTW, I admire your redneck engineering with the paperclip. Well done, MacGyver .

  2. August 3, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Nom. That sounds so good! I made a similar version to this out of buttermilk recently and I’ve just been eating it straight with some honey and berries, but yours, smeared on a bagel…yum. I’ve also recently stumbled onto a frozen yogurt recipe that could have also helped you out. I haven’t actually tried it yet, but it sounds pretty good and is on my todo list for this week. I think it’s in here: http://dessertsmagazine.com/desserts-magazine/currentissue/#/54/

  3. August 3, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Isn’t labneh just one of those “oh why haven’t I done this earlier” kind of things! So easy and a great way to save the yoghurt!

  4. August 3, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I’ve been making what I call “porchgurt” this summer… homemade yogurt that I make by sitting the milk and cultures out on my back patio (http://survivingthemodernworld.com/2011/porchgurt/ ).

    You’ve just upped the ante on me, and I MUST try this as soon as possible. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. August 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Is this what we feasted on last week? It is good!

    Another thing you can do with yogurt: freeze it in your ice cream maker. If it’s plain yogurt, simply add 1/3 cup sugar (I think?) to a quart. Voila! Frozen yogurt. Sometimes I add some lemon juice, too.

  6. August 3, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    I made some froyo with the tons of honey yogurt that I also had. Just blended it with berries and froze it in popsicle molds for Zephyr. I know it’d be more like soft serve if I added more sugar and ran it through the ice cream maker, but this was a lot faster.

  7. August 3, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Oh, good idea! I love tzatziki. I have a little yogurt left, and some pita in the freezer.

  8. August 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    This is such a great idea! Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Andreas
    August 3, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    I love everything about this recipe, just one question: Isn’t it dangerous, i.e. botulism dangerous, to keep this in oil?

  10. lo
    August 3, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Brilliant. I love it when there’s an easy way to extend the life of foodstuffs… even better when it takes on a life of its own.

  11. lo
    August 3, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Brilliant. I love it when there’s an easy way to extend the life of foodstuffs… even better when it takes on a life of its own.

    Of course that blueberry elderflower jam is calling my name now… darn you, Heather!

  12. August 5, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    This sounds incredible! I just made cheese the other day with my hubby, but not like this. I’ve never used yogurt before, only whole milk with a cheese making kit.

    What is the flavor like? Obviously one can flavor it with anything they like, or add other ingredients to spice it up a bit. Just curious … thanks!

  13. August 5, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Isn’t labneh just brilliant and really couldn’t be simpler – absolutely perfect for the lazy cook that I am.
    The little balls can be rolled in chopped herbs or dried chillies, too, before storing in oil. I’m thinking the whole green (herb) and red (chillies) thing would look fantastic for Xmas gifts, too.

  14. August 10, 2011 at 5:05 am

    Kewl you slohud come up with that. Excellent!

  15. August 10, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    AFAICT you’ve covered all the bases with this awnser!

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  17. August 11, 2011 at 4:58 am

    MacGuiver is right. This is all very impressive. It’s a peculiarity of life on these shores that fromage blanc is almost impossible to find and yet it is one of my very favorite cheeses, especially with some grapes and a glass of Banyuls. Unbelievably, I had no idea that it could be made from greek yoghurt. I now feel simultaneously stupid and delighted that it’s so easy.

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