Labne or labneh
Labneh (also known as labneh, labni, lebni or zabedi) is the name of a popular soft cheese in the Middle East. It has been consumed in the levant region of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine for thousands of years. You can find labneh both in a dried form or steeped and marinated in olive oil. Cow or camel milk is traditionally used to produce labneh, although you can also find labneh made from goat or sheep milk. The type of milk used will greatly influence the taste and texture of the labneh.
How do you make labneh?
Labneh is very simple to make, with many different techniques used to achieve varied textures and flavours. An easy method is to sprinkle salt into freshly made yoghurt (ideally from raw milk) and strain through a cheesecloth. The yoghurt is left to strain for 24 hours before it is ready to eat. Flavourings, such as garlic, chilli, mint, zaatar, or dill, can also be added to the final product.
Using the above method, labneh can last up to two weeks. To make labneh last a couple of months, it can be rolled into balls and preserved in olive oil. This is known as ‘labneh bil zayt’, or ‘labneh in oil’. The longer the labneh is left to sit in the oil, the more acidic it will taste. If you choose to store your labneh this way, try to roll the balls in herbs like zaatar, mint, or dill before dunking them in the jars of olive oil.
How do you eat labneh?
Labneh is an extremely versatile cheese that is often eaten as an appetiser, or consumed for breakfast in the Middle East. You will often find labneh on a traditional Middle Eastern mezze platter, eaten with falafel or used as a dip for fresh bread. For a traditional flavour, drizzle labneh with olive oil and add a sprinkling of zaatar before serving.
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