It’s neither because it’s a product of strained yogurt. Yogurt cheese is what we call it in the west, but it has Arabic origins. It is a Mediterranean creamy dip with a slightly sour taste, or what some call the fancy Middle Eastern concoction. No matter how long the debate lasts, labneh is to confirm. But ours is the best.
How Is Labneh Made?
Labneh, also called Labne or yogurt cheese, is a classic Levantine breakfast. Despite its similarity to cream cheese in texture, labneh is not cheese. You get this thick, creamy dip by straining yogurt overnight to allow the whey to drain out. Labneh is tart and refreshing like yogurt!
- 3 cups yogurt— full fat, organic live culture yogurt
- Salt, one tablespoon
- Cheesecloth—Sterilized in boiling water
Here is How You Make Labneh
- Cover a medium bowl with cheesecloth and pour the three cups of yogurt into it. If you can, try to find organic full-fat, live culture yogurt!
- Tie the cheesecloth ends together to create a pouch to hold the yogurt in, then hang it from the faucet. Leaving the yogurt to drain overnight is enough time to drain all the whey. You can strain the whey as another option by placing the cheesecloth in a colander over a bowl. The whey is healthy and probiotics, so don’t pour it down the drain. The bottom of your pitcher will contain protein-packed whey after you make labneh. How do you use it? Try mixing it into bread, smoothies, etc. Let us know how it goes in the comments!
- To get thick Labneh dip, let it hang from the faucet for longer. An ideal timeframe is between 24 -36 hours.
- Once the time has passed, remove the pouch, open it, and scoop the labneh out into a bowl. Toss in 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt and mix well.
- Your labneh is now ready! It should be dense and creamy, with a slightly tangy and rich flavor. It pairs well with savory flavors and works as a dip or spread on sandwiches.
So if it’s Made from Yogurt, it’s Yogurt, Right?
What if we named it super-strained Greek yogurt, with an almost spreadable texture that’s like cream cheese? What do you think? Give the recipe a try, and let us know what you think. But a simple way to describe labneh is to describe it as a dense, tangy, creamy yogurt cheese.
However, it’s a traditional dish from the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, a household favorite, much like hummus. You may have even had labneh dip with pita bread at a restaurant before and not even know the name of the delicious spread!
So Labneh is a Cheese, Then?
While yogurt cheese looks like cream cheese, it is not cheese. Instead, it is a spreadable, moist, and flavorful mixture from straining plain yogurt. Yogurt cheese can replace fresh cheese in salads, dips, smoothies, and pizzas. It is also delicious spread on crackers, bagels, and flatbread: one ingredient and a bit of time are all you need to make labneh.
The best way to preserve labneh is in an airtight container inside the refrigerator, as with most foods. You can keep it for at least two weeks.
What’s the Best Way to Enjoy Labneh?
Labneh is the perfect canvas for flavors. You can use this delicious mixture in a variety of ways:
- As a spread, labneh is excellent on bread, sandwiches, and wraps.
- Labneh is an excellent companion to spicy foods, such as curries, chicken wings, and ribs. Add a dash of salt and pepper and drizzle some olive oil over it.
- Season your labneh with salt, olive oil, and fresh or dried herbs to make dips for crudites.
- To serve this beautiful appetizer with fresh bread, blend the yogurt cheese with salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Top with olive oil and pistachios.
- Mix labneh with jelly, jam, and fresh fruit to make yogurt cheese ice pops.
- You may decide to leave the labneh out for longer if you want it firm enough, then roll it into cheese balls with your oiled hands. Place the cheese balls In a container, pour olive oil over, and cover. Serve within two weeks with bread, salads, or on crackers.
To Make a Sweet Dessert, Try This Easy Recipe:
- Follow the directions in the recipe for straining plain yogurt.
- Mix 3-4 tablespoons of honey, maple syrup, or agave into the yogurt after the first 8 hours of straining. Then continue straining for an additional 8 hours.
- When thickened to your pleasure, spoon it into little bowls, and top with fresh fruit, lemon zest, and however much sweetener you like.
- Chop almonds and walnuts, sprinkle on top and serve.
Some people call it yogurt, some call it cheese, and some call it yogurt cheese. It doesn’t matter what you call it; it’s all good! But it’s the most delicious and nutrient-dense yogurt hybrid. You will want lots of bread to scoop it up because labneh is hard to stop eating once you taste it.