Making Labne (and Whey)
Cheese Cheese Easy Cheese
for every 500 mL whole milk yoghurt, add
1 scant tsp salt
(for jars of labne balls)
a few sprigs of rosemary
You’ll find labne (the easiest fresh cheese in the world) usually rolled into small balls, popped into sterilised jars and stored in olive oil and herbs. Which you can do if you’re able to resist eating the entire batch spread on breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s the most wonderful thing on hot toast, a spread for a plate of vegetables and olives, piled on to an open salad sandwich or pizza. Homemade labne with these shakshuka eggs would be a very good thing.
Some folks would argue the cheese is actually the by-product of this process, that it’s the whey you really want – the precious mineral-rich water extracted by simply straining the cultured yoghurt. Folks drink whey as a general health tonic (with water and lemon), as a starter culture for making your own lact0-fermented goodies, or for soaking grains and seeds. So make some yoghurt, or grab a batch of the most wonderfully creamy Schulz yoghurt, and you can have all three!
Line a kitchen strainer with a clean tea towel or a double layer of muslin, and rest this over a large bowl.
Mix the salt into the yoghurt and tip it onto the cloth. Gather the edges and tie them together with a rubber band or string. Now just leave this to drain for up to 2 days – the whey will collect in the bowl and the labne will become beautifully thick like cream cheese. The longer you leave it, the thicker it will become. Hanging it from a hook, tap or a wooden spoon set across a deep bowl, will help to speed up the process and ensure the whey can drip freely from the yoghurt.
If the weather is warm, leave it to drain in the fridge.
To store labne in the traditional way, roll into walnut-sized balls and gently place into a sterilised jar, with some bruised garlic cloves and a sprig of rosemary. Top the jar with your best olive oil. It is common to store these in a cool pantry, but refrigerated they will keep for many months, some would say a year. I have no idea how you could not eat them all in the first week.