When it comes to Middle Eastern cuisine, there’s one
particular fermented food you should not miss out on: labneh. Also called yogurt
cheese or strained yogurt, this is a spreadable type of cheese that is made by
draining out the whey from fresh yogurt.
However, because of its foreign origins, labneh is usually
elusive — chances are your only hopes of finding it and tasting its creamy
goodness is by dining in Middle Eastern restaurants or scouring ethnic food
stores. But did you know that you can make fresh labneh at home? All you need
is some homemade yogurt. Try this easy labneh recipe below.
1 1/2 quarts of fresh
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped dill
1 teaspoon chopped chives
Set the sieve above your bowl.
Fold the cheesecloth into quarters and set it
inside the sieve.
Mix the yogurt with unrefined salt.
Pour the yogurt and salt mixture into the sieve lined
Tie the cheesecloth and set it in the strainer.
Make sure there’s enough space between the strainer and the bowl to ensure the
whey will never reach the sieve during the straining process.
After the yogurt has strained for about 24 hours,
gently remove the cheesecloth.
Roll the labneh into small walnut-sized balls
and gently place into a Mason jar with fresh dill and chives, then cover with
The Benefits of
Eating Fermented Foods
Regularly eating fermented foods is
among the top dietary strategies that any person can implement, and is in fact
one of the cornerstones of optimal health. I believe that most people would
benefit from adding more fermented foods to their meals, as addressing your gut
flora can positively impact most health conditions, whether chronic or acute.
Here are just some of the ways that consuming fermented
foods can boost your well-being:
Helps reduce risk of infection from pathogenic microorganisms
Improves digestive function, leading in reduced
Helps improve and reduce the risk for atopic dermatitis (eczema) and acne
May help manage weight (certain fermented foods like kimchi are
Helps improve inflammatory bowel conditions such as
Reduces risk of urinary and female genital tract infections
May reduce the risk of brain diseases, including
Lowers the risk for type 1 and 2 diabetes
Improves mental health, mood control and behavior
Remember that different fermented foods contain varying
strains of bacteria, which is why you should add a wide arsenal of cultured
foods to your meals in order to optimize microbial diversity — and labneh is
one of the best types out there.
You’ll Never Run Out
of Uses for Labneh
Labneh, also pronounced labne, lebnah or labaneh, is loved
by many for its creamy and tangy flavor. It can be consumed as a dip or spread,
topped with a dash of za’atar spice or fresh herbs, plus a drizzle of olive
oil, or added to various recipes.
Labneh is also sometimes called Greek yogurt, although there
is a slight difference between the two. The former is usually more strained,
resulting in an ultra-thick, cream cheese-like consistency. What’s more, labneh
is more popular in savory applications, while Greek yogurt is usually mixed in
But this doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself when it
comes to using labneh in your meals. This cheese-like food is extremely
versatile, and can be enjoyed both cooked and raw.
Labneh works as a replacement for sour cream and cream
cheese, and can be added to pastries and baked goods. Try making a healthier
cheesecake using this delicious yogurt cheese. One boon of using labneh instead
of the usual yogurt is that it does not curdle at high temperatures, mainly
because of its high fat content.
One tip: the consistency of the end product depends on how
long you strain the yogurt. The longer it’s allowed to strain, the thicker the
labneh will be.
Reminder: Don’t Discard
Whey, the cloudy and yellowish liquid byproduct of making
labneh (and other types of cheese), seems like it doesn’t have a lot of uses,
but don’t throw it out — it actually packs a nutritional punch.
Whey is loaded with phosphorus, calcium and B vitamins such
as pantothenic acid, B12 and riboflavin. In fact, adding it to your recipes can
actually boost the vitamin, mineral and protein content of other foods.[iv]
Try these ideas on using the whey from labneh:[v],
If you don’t have any immediate need for the whey, don’t
worry — you can easily freeze it for future use. Simply pour it into ice cube
trays or small cups and place them in the freezer. When you’re ready to use,
just pop out the cubes and defrost.[viii]