Making Labneh

June 22, 2011

The YoChee Way by Nikki & David Goldbeck basically skims over how to make yogurt, leaving it to the instructions of the yogurt maker unit, going directly to converting yogurt to labneh, which is being marketed today as Greek Yogurt. I decided, well, why can’t I buy yogurt and make the conversion? So, I picked up the cheapest plain yogurt I could find at the store, paying $1.90 for the quart, and proceeded to drain it. Pretty much nothing happened. I looked at the ingredients then: gelatin. They artificially thickened the yogurt with gelatin and corn starch, which stopped me from making labneh. I’m sure this process can be done with store bought yogurt, but I just didn’t get the right one.

So I made up a batch of yogurt, and then got out my cheese making supplies. I put the yogurt in a cheese cloth, tied it to a long spoon, and suspended it over a large pot. I put the pot in the refrigerator and let it drain overnight, which was probably 11 hours.

Draining yogurt

It produced quite a bit of whey, and the amount of yogurt cheese that I had was about half the amount of yogurt I started with, as it seemed to compact a bit with the whey gone.

I tasted it. It was still tart, but it didn’t seem to be as tart as it was when it was yogurt. It is also really smooth and kind of like cream cheese. I could see how it would make a nice spread replacement, especially if it is a “zero-fat, calcium-rich, low-calorie, high-protein food.” I tried it out on an English muffin. It’s good replacing cream cheese, but a bit tangy for my taste and I needed jam. Not sure I could do it as a mayo replacement, but I know people who could.

Pretty simple to make, and cheap, too!

I will add that John W Fischer included in his book Cheese: Identification, Classification, Utilization a recipe for an herb-marinated yogurt cheese as an appetizer, which was actually copied verbatim.

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