How to make labneh

All it took was one trip to Lebanon a few years ago to leave me officially obsessed with labneh.  This creamy cross between cheese and yoghurt is everywhere in Lebanon – generally served up to be shared before meals smeared on pita bread.  What I didn’t realise is how easy it is to make labneh yourself.  It just takes a little bit of time to make this addictive Middle Eastern cheese.
The finished labneh
I was shown how to make labneh last week by Tony Panetta, executive chef at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.  Tony took out the silver medal at this year’s Royal Melbourne Show for the house made labneh that he serves up at the convention centre so he really does know his stuff.  He’s incredibly passionate about using Victorian produce and uses this to make pretty much everything for the convention centre in house.  Tony even makes his own yoghurt which he then uses to make the labneh, but I’m not suggesting you go that far so this is just the recipe for labneh.  
  
Head chef Tony Panetta explains how to make labneh
Ingredients
450g natural yoghurt
Sea salt
A few sprigs of fresh oregano
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Pouring the yoghurt into the cheese cloth lined 
1.  Line a deep bowl with cheesecloth or muslin and pour the yoghurt into the cloth, bring together the edges to form a tight bundle and tie securely with string.  (If you can’t get your hands on cheesecloth or muslin I’ve heard of people using the really thick kitchen towel quite successfully for this).  
2.  Hang the bundle over a bowl or put it in a sieve over a bowl and leave for two to three days.  
3.  The yoghurt is ready when most of the liquid has drained out and the remaining yogurt is thick with a firm texture.   Remove the labneh from the cloth and use a spoon or ice-cream scoop to scoop the labneh into balls.  
4.  Place the balls of labneh into a sterilised jar along with the fresh herbs, garlic cloves and a sprinkling of sea salt.  Then fill the jar with olive oil.  
The labneh will keep for about three weeks.  Serve it simply with crusty bread.  
  
The labneh ready to be scooped into balls
Gourmet Chick was a guest of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre for a labneh making class. It was so interesting to explore what is the biggest kitchen in the Southern Hemisphere.  I particularly loved the giant salad bowl that is used to toss and dress salads.  
Posted by: on September 23rd, 2012     8 Comments »

Category: Recipe - Finger Food
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8 Comments on “How to make labneh”

  1. Helen (Grab Your Fork) said at 11:54 pm on September 23rd, 2012:

    Love labneh – it’s been ages since I’ve made it. It’s so easy but just requires a little forethought and lots of patience :)

  2. Sophie said at 1:25 am on September 24th, 2012:

    Yummy! Are there other classes running in the near future? I’d love to sign up for one!

  3. Missy Piggy said at 2:44 am on September 24th, 2012:

    YUM! Does the yoghurt (in it’s muslin ball) need to hang in the fridge – or is out in the kitchen OK???

  4. Iron Chef Shellie said at 5:08 am on September 24th, 2012:

    Damn wish I came along, instead I bailed. Glad you could provide all the steps for me though!

  5. Kavey said at 8:58 am on September 24th, 2012:

    Mmm, labneh! I’m guessing this is best to do in a cool spot, as thought of leaving yoghurt out for a couple of days, in summer heat, worries me that it’d go off. What do you think? Not sur really?

  6. vintagemacaroon said at 8:45 pm on September 24th, 2012:

    Ahh funny, I’ve been thinking of making this lately. I didn’t realise you could store it in olive oil, I thought it was a fresh thing. I’m going to give it a go then :)

  7. Yasmeen said at 10:37 am on September 25th, 2012:

    Yum! We make this at least once per week at home (literally go through gallons of the stuff per month), and I have literally just written a post about preserving/marinating it in jars like this. How timely to have found your post!

    And also, how wonderful to have had a private tutorial like this – what an experience.

  8. cara waters said at 12:04 pm on September 25th, 2012:

    Helen – You are right – it takes time, but just time hanging in the fridge.

    Sophie – I’m not sure but I think it was just a one off sadly.

    Missy Piggy – Depends how hot it is. If the weather is warm I think you would want to put it in the fridge.

    Shellie – Yes it was a really interesting class.

    Kavey – Yes I think in the fridge would be required if the weather is warm. Most of the time in the UK though you could probably get away without the fridge!

    VintageMacaroon – It’s great with the olive oil to preserve it – reminds me a bit of the Meredith Goats Cheese to which I am totally addicted.

    Yasmeen – Look forward to reading your tips on it.


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