Published: 05/12/2015 - Updated: 10/06/2018
Milk is one of my favorite foods, and ever since I was a little girl, a nice glass of cold milk has been the best thing for quenching my thirst and beating the heat. Milk has been with humans as long as animals have been domesticated, and this healthy food continues to be a support for several cultures, especially nomad cultures that use dairy and dairy products in all their meals. These cultures value live animals for the milk they produce, more than their meat, as they will only provide meat once. The process of turning milk into its thousands of other products is incredibly interesting, especially because it preserves it longer as a product that would originally have a very short shelf life in the outdoors. In this article, however, I’m not going to focus on milk, that faithful product that hasn’t left our side since the beginnings of civilization. Rather, I will be speaking about one of its byproducts, labneh.
What is the Labneh?
Labneh is a fermented dairy product that contains salt. It is popular in the Middle East and is soft and goes great with breads. It is also known by a few other names, such as strained yogurt and labneh cheese. It has many of the same beneficial characteristics as those of other similarly fermented dairy products, which are provided by bacteria that help better process lactase, and in passing through the intestines, regulates bacterial flora so that pathogen bacteria do not take over the intestines. This leads to better digestion, and it also contains calcium, vitamin B12, and proteins, just like those contained in any other dairy product. It can be prepared not only from cow’s milk, but sheep’s and goat’s milk is sometimes used as well. It is also used to cure dairy products, creating a longer shelf life. Some areas in Mexico prepare a different variety of Labneh, known as Jocoque, which also has its roots in Middle Eastern traditions, although it is prepared in a somewhat different fashion than labneh. I hope you enjoy this dairy product, finding other interesting properties beyond simply consuming it.
- 500 grams plain Greek yogurt
- 500 mL whole cow’s milk
- ¾ tsp. sea salt, thick grain
- Mix the yogurt, milk and salt together in a bowl.
- Using a separate, deep bowl, allowing plenty of space for all the ingredients, cover the entire inside of the bowl with a clean towel or cloth, leaving a bit of cloth hanging over the edges.
- Join the ends of the cloth or towel, wrapping everything up inside it, and hang it above the bowl to strain the ingredients through the towel, eliminating as much liquid as possible. This process will take 24 hours.
- The whey that was filtered into the bowel can be thrown out. When opening the towel, you should have a dairy product with a firm exterior and a soft, slightly more liquid interior. Mix the product in a clean bowel, creating a uniform mixture which can be consumed immediately, or stored in the fridge with a bit of olive oil. When storing in the fridge, work the product into tiny balls.
- If you prefer a drier version, strain the dairy for 48 hours.
- When eating the labneh, we recommend spreading it on bread, as dressing on a sandwich, as a dip, with pita bread, or alongside steamed vegetables.
Preserving Labneh in Oil
- ½ c. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped finely
- 1 Tbsp. chives
- ½ tsp. tarragon
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ½ tsp. capers
- ½ lemon
- Once you have finished preparing your labneh, shape it into small balls, about the size of a golf ball.
- Mix the oil, lemon, chives, pepper, capers and the cilantro in a bowl.
- Place the labneh in a sealable container, spreading the oil mixture over top. Seal and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, and enjoy the wonderful flavor for up to two weeks. The oil will seep into the mixture creating a sort of marinade.
- You could also change the spice mixture according to the spices you have available, or simply by using more salt.
- 2 chipotle peppers
- Olive oil
- 1/3 c. olives
- Prepare your labneh, straining for 48 hours.
- Once you have finished the labneh, blend in the chipotle peppers until the mixture is well blended.
- Serve as a dip with the olive oil and olive on top. This is also similar to how one would make hummus; add a bit of salt if you like, or create your own version with different spices.