If you’ve never heard of Labna, it is a traditional soft cheese from the Middle East that is made with yogurt. It is used in a variety of dishes, but it can also be enjoyed just as it is.
This recipe is so simple and you are going to love all the wonderful recipes you can now make using this new staple.
The Many Benefits of Yogurt Cheese
Yogurt is a nutrient dense food, but yogurt cheese is even more nutritious. The whey has been removed which results in a higher concentration of calcium
per volume than any other dairy product.
It is low in calories, sodium, cholesterol, and lactose and has a
wonderful smooth texture with a flavor somewhere between cream cheese and sour cream. This is the perfect diet food, but it won’t leave you feeling deprived.
This rich creamy cheese can be used as a substitute for cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream or whipping cream.
You can use it to spread on toast or bagels. You can also make an amazing baked potato topped with this healthy sour cream alternative.
Serve plain or flavor with fruit, honey, vanilla or maple syrup to satisfy a sweet tooth.
It can also be used to make low fat dips, salad dressings, sandwich spreads and cheesecakes.
How to Make Yogurt Cheese: The Basics
Labna is a solid concentrated yogurt with the liquid, called whey, removed.
The whey contains lactose, provitamin A and minerals. You can refrigerate it and drink
it or add it to other recipes.
You can use plain whole milk, low-fat or nonfat yogurt to make labna. If you are using store bought yogurt, find a brand that does not contain gelatin.
Gelatin becomes incorporated in the whey and prevents the whey from draining off.
Also avoid the extra-creamy yogurt it has a tendency not to separate very well.
Place yogurt in a draining device over a bowl. Cheesecloth, linen or a strainer lined with coffee filters work beautifully. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
A large quantity of whey is released in the first 2 hours of draining, but at least 10-18 hours is necessary
if you want to reach the same consistency of cream cheese or sour cream for substitution purposes.
After the yogurt has drained, pour off the whey, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
It will usually last up to 2 weeks in a tightly covered container.
In middle eastern countries they roll Labna into balls (just the right
size to fit in the palm of your hand) and store them in a jar of olive oil.
They are very similiar to raw mozzarella and can be used in many of the same
Generally, 1 cup yogurt yields 1/2 cup Labna and 1/2 cup whey. If you want to make a lot of it, enough to make a cheesecake, it will save you
money to make your own yogurt.
You may want to consider buying a special strainer made especially for making Labna if you will be making it often, but not if you will be making large quantities.