Labaneh from scratch
Updated: Jul 6
Labaneh is simply a plain yogurt that’s drained of its whey. It gets thick and creamy and makes a delicious spread thats often used for breakfast eaten with pita bread. Or slathered in a sandwich. Add in Za’atar, herbs, dried mint for a delicious combo.
Always serve labaneh with extra virgin olive oil. It’s also delicious served with tomatoes, cucumbers and olives.
If my childhood was a sandwich it will be a labaneh sandwich. It’s what I ate for breakfast, school lunch, my mom would cut a pita in half slather it with labaneh, sprinkle of zaatar and cucumbers who’s with me here! and of course a sandwich while doing homework because you know brain food. Labaneh or #labneh is simply plain yogurt drained of its whey . Once it thickens its creamy and decadent. If you strain it even longer it becomes thicker, almost becomes #fermented and more dense in flavor. #Labaneh is used in everything in the Arab world. Often spooned in a plate with olive oil on top. Baked in bread, part of the #breakfast or #mezze table. School sandwiches or As a dip mixed with herbs and spices such as #zaatar, #dukah , or dried #mint and #chili
The Labaneh bag:
The Labaneh bag is a love story. It’s a fixture in every Palestinian home. Mine is a hand sewn gift that my grandmother gave me when I first got married.
Growing up there wasn't a week where you don't see a Labaneh bag hanging from grandmas tita's kitchen sink filled with homemade yogurt to become labneh. She made hers fresh every week. Although Labaneh is widely available now but growing up it was always always homemade.
Cheesecloth or a cotton Labaneh bag if you have one.
A fine Colander or strainer
32 ounce good quality plain yogurt
1 tsp of salt
Mix the salt with the Labaneh real well to combine.
Scoop Labaneh Into the Labaneh bag or the cheesecloth and twist the bag real tight around the yogurt and tie with a string.
Place the cheesecloth in the strainer Over a bowl to catch all the whey. Make sure that their is room between the bottom of the strainer and the bottom of the bowl so the Labaneh isn’t touching the liquid. This step will allow the yogurt to dry out and become Labaneh.
Refrigerate minimum 8-24 hours discarding the liquid whey often so it’s not in contact with the drained yogurt.
Remove the Labaneh from the cheesecloth or the bag. At this point it should have a cream cheese spreadable consistency.
Your Labaneh is now ready to eat. To store Place it in a glass container drizzled with a layer of olive oil.
This will keep well in the fridge if covered with olive oil for 2-3 weeks
Tip: The longer the Labaneh drain the thicker it gets.
To clean your Labaneh bag:
After each use wash the bag by hand with warm water and dish soap and allow it to completely dry before storing.
Labaneh balls is just taking Labaneh a step further. It’s a lot more firm and drier than traditional Labaneh and often preserved in olive oil.
Labaneh balls or “Tabat Labaneh” are often made late spring and summertime when fresh yogurt is widely available and at its tastiest. My favorite version is made with goats milk or goats yogurt.
For this recipe Labaneh has to be made first, then shaped into balls and set out to dry over few days. Then packed in a jar with olive oil. The Labaneh balls are delicious rolled in herbs and spices such as Za’atar, mint and sumac.
One Labaneh recipe (drained for 48 hours)
Cover a tray with few layers of paper towels
Scoop one tbls of Labaneh into the palms of your hands and roll into a ball
Place the balls on the paper towels
Place more paper towels on top of the rolled Labaneh balls making sure to absorb any extra liquid.
When the paper towels get wet or damp, replace them with new towels. You are going to do this twice a day. Don’t worry it’s pretty easy.
Keep the Labaneh balls in the fridge for the duration of this process.
Repeat the process until the Labaneh is completely dried out a process that might take 3-4 days
When ready place the Labaneh balls in a sterile glass jar. Pack the Labaneh balls in there and submerge completely with olive oil.
Keep jar in the fridge it will last for few months if covered in oil.
To serve allow the oil to come to room temperature because it will solidify in the fridge.
Tip: you can flavor your oil with chili’s, garlic or fresh herbs like Za’atar, Rosenary etc.
To serve: you can serve the Labaneh straight out of the jar. Or roll the Labaneh balls in dried mint, Za’atar, sumac or whatever you like before serving.