Labneh (Homemade Cream Cheese)

The Chef and I were recently invited to a Middle-Eastern themed dinner party at the home of our friends, Justin and Rob. As soon as the invite hit my inbox, I asked Justin what we could bring. His reply?

“An appetizer … something on theme. You like a challenge, right?”

Why, yes … yes, I do.

Enter labneh.

Akin to cream cheese, labneh is a thick, spreadable cheese originating from the Middle East. It’s made from only two ingredients: yogurt and salt … and it’s delicious, healthy, inexpensive, and incredibly easy to make. Just allow yourself a day to let the yogurt strain (and keep some cheesecloth on hand, which you should do anyway ‘cuz it has a whole lot of awesome uses in the kitchen), and you just might forgo processed cream cheese from now on. I know we will.

We brought along some toasted whole-wheat pita chips to smear the labneh on, and the creamy/crunchy combo was sublime. The pita chips also went quite well with the homemade roasted garlic baba ganoush we brought too, but you’ll have to wait a few more days for that recipe.

Now … go make some labneh.

Labneh

Labneh

Ingredients:

  • 32 ounces plain, full-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

Directions:

1. Line a large bowl with a double layer of cheesecloth. Stir the salt into the yogurt, then pour the yogurt into the cheesecloth.

2. Bring two opposite corners of the cheesecloth together, then tie them into a secure knot. Bring the remaining two corners of the cheesecloth together as well, tying into another secure knot. Slide a large wooden spoon under both of the knots, then hang the cheesecloth bundle over a deep bowl, stockpot, or pitcher.

3. Make sure the bottom of the bundle does not touch the bottom of your chosen straining vessel, then place the vessel in the refrigerator. Allow the yogurt to drain for at least 12 hours (though preferably 18 to 24).

4. Remove the strained yogurt from the refrigerator, and scrape into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with a bit of sumac, za’atar, or chopped fresh herbs if you’d like. A drizzle of olive oil would be a great addition too.

{This post is linked to Gastronomical Sovereignty’s Fresh Foods Wednesday Link Up #51} and Thank Your Body’s Thank Your Body Thursday Link-Up #45.}

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  • suzy supnet

    Yummy. That sounds great. There have been times when, due to my laziness, I have let homemade yogurt strain for 24 hours and I had essentially cream cheese as well. I know it is so much healthier but I still don’t do it enough. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://rhubarbandhoney.com/ Kimberly

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  • kitchenriffs

    Can’t get any simpler than this! I’ve yet to get into cheese making, even though I know it’s so easy. Gotta do this! Thanks for the inspiration.

    • http://rhubarbandhoney.com/ Kimberly

      It truly can’t be any easier! And it really is so delicious!

  • Saltwater Happy

    Yum, I wonder would this be good with raspberry jam? Your blog is beautiful. I love the colors, it is very calming.

    • http://rhubarbandhoney.com/ Kimberly

      oh my goodness, yes! A bagel smeared with labneh and raspberry jam … I think that would be divine!

      And thanks so much for the lovely comments about my blog … much appreciated!

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  • Anita at Hungry Couple

    Looks great. I love labneh (and most Middle Eastern foods)!

    • http://rhubarbandhoney.com/ Kimberly

      Thanks, Anita!

  • Katie

    Is it ok to still use the whey in other stuff even though there is salt in the yogurt?

    • http://rhubarbandhoney.com/ Kimberly

      Great question, Katie!

      I typically use the whey leftover from cheesemaking in place of buttermilk in things such as pancakes … and I think you could still use this whey that way as well. (I always add a pinch of salt to my pancakes so this would make up for that.)

      I’ve also heard that whey is great for houseplants so when I don’t plan on saving it to make something else with, I toss it on my plants … and they’ve never complained!

  • Denise Evans

    I was there and can attest to its yummieness!!!! Thanks for sharing, Kimberly.

    • http://rhubarbandhoney.com/ Kimberly

      Thanks, Denise!

  • Melissa

    Does it matter if I use Greek yogurt?

    • http://rhubarbandhoney.com/ Kimberly

      Hi, Melissa!

      I think as long as you are using full-fat Greek yogurt, this should work!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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