Make Your Own Cheese! : Labaneh (Yoghurt Cheese)
Would you like to make your own cheese? It's easy, it's cheap and it's fun, too! Only with a few steps, in just a few hours - you'll be ready to eat your own delicious cheese!
First you need to know what kind of cheese you are about to make. Labaneh (or Labneh, Lebnah, Labni)is a soft and sourly cheese originated from the Middle East. It's name is claimed to come from Lebanon, derived from the word "laben", which means "white" or "milk". However, the Greeks have another version of Labaneh, the "Greek Yoghurt", popular as a base for tzatziki dip or as a dessert.
Labaneh goes into fresh cheese, obtained mainly just from straining yoghurt to leave out the whey. That means, Labaneh does not preserve for a long period of time - maximum a week since it's made. It also does not need to age - 12 hours kept in fridge is enough.
Perfect as a cracker dip, Labaneh can be also be served on sandwiches or traditionally in olive oil and zaatar, a Middle-Eastern seasoning mix of sumac, thyme, salt and sesame seeds. To add some flavor, dried herbs can also be used.
So, let's start with our cheese making!
The ingredients. What you need are :
- 500 ml of Plain Yoghurt
- A bowl for mixing
- A (big) bowl to hold the whey
- A colander
- Cheesecloth (or those cloth usually to wrap tofu) or any other soft cloth that lets through liquid well
Don't believe making real cheese just out of yoghurt and salt? Then, you should try it out first!
Pour some yoghurt into the bowl. I recommend you not to pour all yoghurt at once, but bit by bit hence repeating the steps again until there's no more yoghurt left. But if you consider to put all at once, you also may.
Add a tablespoon of salt. You may add more or less, according to your taste, whether you want a salty or a sourly Labaneh. The less salt you give, the more you will taste the sourness!
Put the cheesecloth over the colander. Place the colander on a big bowl (should be bigger than the colander itself).
Slowly pour or scoop bit by bit the yoghurt mix onto the cheesecloth. Make sure there is still enough cloth left to cover the yoghurt afterwards. Liquid, or what is called whey, will drain out of the cheesecloth very slowly.
Cover the yoghurt surface with the leftover cloth. If it can't cover everything, better use an additional cloth to do so. Make sure everything is covered properly. Tie the cloth (if there's still a lot cheesecloth left) or use a paper clip to hold it together.
Leave the yoghurt to let its whey drain completely for a couple of hours (around 1-2 hours). This may take longer, as the whey drains very slowly.
After that, put the cheesecloth into the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. If that is done....Voila! Your Labaneh is ready to be served. You may add dried herbs to give it some other taste. Dip some crackers or spread your sandwiches with your own-made Labaneh!
And another note : Remember to finish your Labaneh in a week as it cannot last any longer.
Have a try!!
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