Labneh is a fresh Middle Eastern cheese made by hanging whole milk yogurt in muslin until it is as thick as cream cheese, but with a tangy, lightly salty flavour reminiscent of feta. If you want to keep it for longer than a week, you can make it into balls and cover these with olive oil, which will keep happily in the fridge for a couple of months. Use it like feta in salads, dotted over a tray of roast vegetables or to make a labneh cheesecake. Utterly delicious.
Lay a sheet of muslin or cheesecloth over a sieve and suspend it over a bowl. Pour the yoghurt into the cloth-lined sieve and stir in the salt. The whey will begin to leak out almost immediately. (I sometimes tie the cloth in a knot and hang it from the tap over my kitchen sink with the bowl underneath. Every once in a while, I give the tied cloth a little squeeze to accelerate the draining of the whey, but this isn’t necessary unless you particularly enjoy the tactile element of it, as I do.)
Allow the yoghurt to drain overnight, either in the fridge or over the sink. The next day, you’ll have a lovely ball of creamy white cheese in the cloth. You can eat it immediately or keep it in the fridge in a sealed container, where it will continue to lose whey and thicken up more, for up to 5 days.
P.S. To give the labneh a whole new range of flavours, try stirring in or sprinkling on herbs, flowers, garlic or seasoning. Chive flowers, cracked black pepper and finely grated garlic (use a Microplane) work particularly well.
P.P.S. You can preserve the labneh by rolling it into small balls and immersing them immediately in good quality oil in a sterilised jar with a screw-top lid. The labneh will keep for up to a couple of months in the fridge, but you’ll most likely eat it within a week or two.
300ml natural yoghurt (full- or low-fat)
A generous pinch of sea salt
Makes about 200g