Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Making Yoghurt and Labneh

Labneh is a yoghurt cheese eaten in the Middle East.  There are varying ideas about where it originated from, some say Turkey, others say Lebanon and I've been unable to clear that up.  What I do know however is that it is a very tasty soft cheese and so easy to make at home.
Camels on the beach at Sealine Resort, Qatar
I start by making my own yoghurt but you can also use a good store bought one like natural Greek Yoghurt.  I also have an EasiYo Yoghurt maker which is actually just like a large thermos but you don't need to use the EasiYo powders you can just use the method below.  If you don't have an EasiYo maker you could substitute it for a thermos or place the bowl of yoghurt in the oven (turned off) to keep warm. A large sterilized jar wrapped in towels works well too.

Homemade Yoghurt
1/2 cup natural yoghurt without added thickeners.
1/2 cup dried milk powder
3 cups milk

In a large saucepan slowly bring the milk to a light simmer and then turn off the heat.  Add the dried milk powder being careful to avoid lumps.  I stir in a little of the milk into the milk powder first and then add the creamed mixture to the saucepan.
Add the yoghurt and stir well to combine.
Place the yoghurt into your choice of container (EasiYo, thermos, jar, bowl and oven) 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
Thick yoghurt after being overnight in the EasiYo maker
Labneh (Yoghurt Cheese)
1 litre yoghurt (4 cups)
1 tspn sea salt

Mix the salt into the yoghurt and pour into a strainer that has been lined with cheesecloth or other open weave fabric like muslin.

Pull up the sides of the cloth and tie it off around the top with string leaving a long end so that you can use it to suspend the cheese while it drains.  I suspended mine in the kitchen for a few hours and then put it into the fridge just sitting in the cloth and in the strainer over the bowl.

Leave to drip for 24 hours and then unwrap your Labneh.  You can see in the photo below that it has become quite firm and holds it's shape.  Give it a bit of a knead and it is ready to eat.  It's amazing and it's that easy!

Labneh after 24 hours draining - about 1 1/4 cups
The liquid that drips from the yoghurt is the whey and it can be used in cakes, biscuits, scones, pancakes or many other recipes so don't throw that away.  You can freeze it for a later day.

Cucumber slices and celery spread with creamy Labneh
Labneh can be flavoured with herbs or spices to suit your taste.  Mint adds an authentic middle eastern flavour.  You can spread it on crackers, eat it with flat breads spread in on a sandwich, fill the hollow in celery sticks, use it as a dip with vegetables, it is really up to your imagination.  Use it where you would use cream cheese.  I have mixed in fresh chives and parsley straight from the garden and ate these for lunch.  Very nice but I prefer the celery ones to the cucumber ones.



  1. Thank you so much for the directions on how to make Labneh. I'm looking forward to making it. Have an awesome day!

  2. You're welcome Darla. It is so easy to make. Didn't you used to use this in place of sour cream when you were in Doha?

  3. question, when using the easy yo maker for the yogurt, do you still add the boiling water to the easy yo maker?
    thanks Sharon

    1. Hi Sharon, Yes I just used the EasiYo yoghurt maker as you normally would with the EasiYo packet mixes. Mine always works out pretty thick but I believe that if you want even thicker yoghurt you add extra dried milk powder.


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