Making Herbal Labna Cheese

One from the Archives; many moons ago with my elder son 🙂 Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas and everyone’s mama!

Labna is a traditional soft cheese from the Middle East that is made with yogurt. We’ve made our Labna with kefir we cultured ourselves from local raw goat’s milk. Kefir is a cultured milk product that is similar to yogurt, but has a wider variety of micro-organisms.

This cheese is very easy to make, in fact, my 5 year old has prepared the cheese for this article.

For this you’ll need the following clean (sterile) materials:

Kefir (or Yogurt)
Work Bowls
Linen cloth (do not use grocery store “cheesecloth” – a birdseye weave cloth diaper works well as does a white cloth napkin)
Fresh herbs of choice (chopped)

1gettingready.jpg 1. Getting Ready

Assemble your materials. Make sure your hands and all of your materials are as clean as possible.

strainer.jpg 2. Prepare For Straining

Place a strainer into one of the work bowls. Line strainer with the linen cloth.

straining1.jpg 3. Straining

Slowly pour the kefir (or yogurt) into the linen lined strainer.

hanging1.jpg 4. Making a Hanging Bag

Gather all edges of the cloth to make a bag and tie up the cloth at the top.

hanging2.jpg 5. Tying the Bag

Now your bag of cheese to be is ready for hanging to let the whey drain.

hanging3.jpg 6. Draining The Whey

Let the bag hang overnight. Be sure to place your bag over a bowl to catch the draining whey.

Tip: Whey can be saved in a jar and refrigerated for a variety of uses,
including lacto-fermenting vegetables (pickling), making bread, cooking pastas in, etc … Don’t throw it a-whey 😀

scooping1.jpg 7. The Next Day

Open the linen cloth and using a rubber or silicone spatula scrape the drained curds from the inside of the cloth.

scooping2.jpg 8. Gathering The Cheese

It doens’t look like a lot when you open the cloth, but as you can see, it starts to pile up.

mixing1.jpg 9. Making It Smooth

Now its time to mix the cheese to get a smooth cream cheese like consitency.

herbs1.jpg 10. Adding Herbs

At this point chopped herbs can be added. We used green onions for this batch.
(Note: Adding herbal and fruit jellies are also a delicious option.)

herbs2.jpg 11. Mixing The Herbs

Mix the herbs in well.

The cheese can be kept cream cheese style and smeared onto bagels, flat bread (pita), toast rounds, crackers, etc …

It can also be rolled it into small balls and covered with olive oil and stored in a sealed container.
Another variation is to shape the cheese into a log and roll it in chopped nuts.
(Note: The cheese is easier to shape if refrigerated a bit first.)

eating.jpg 12. Enjoying

Enjoy …this cheese is being munched on a whole grain cracker. Yummy!

The cheese will last refrigerated for about a week (if it doesn’t get all eaten up in the first day 😉

by Christine Ziegler – © 2004 – Author’s Bio: Chris has studied the art of cooking as an apprentice to a Pastry Chef and a Sous Chef in 2 Manhattan restaurants. She is the owner of A Little Ol’Factory ~ ~ where she sells exceptional quality essential oils for Aromatherapy, makes olive oil based soap, all natural toiletries and teaches classes about Soap Making and Essential Oils.

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