Yogurt cheese, or Labneh, has become a staple in my refrigerator. It’s delicious, very healthy and an extremely versatile cheese that is also oh, so easy to make! It has a consistency similar to cream cheese and, like cream cheese, can be eaten plain or jazzed up with any variety of ingredients. Some people say that it’s the easiest cheese on earth to make. I’d say they are probably right. Though it can be made with plain, store bought yogurt I always make mine from my homemade Greek yogurt.
Yogurt cheese is made simply by draining the excess whey from plain or Greek yogurt. There are a few ways to accomplish this, but I prefer to suspend the yogurt in my yogurt cheese bag over a large bowl. You can also drain the whey by lining a colander with either cheesecloth or coffee filters.
Here’s my cheese bag after it’s been hanging for a while. See all the whey in the bowl? This batch isn’t quite done yet. There’s still a lot of draining left to do. This yogurt would now be considered Greek yogurt.
The volume of yogurt will drop significantly as the whey drains out. My guess is that more more than half of the volume is lost in the process, though I have never taken the time to measure this.
Draining the whey takes several hours to overnight. The longer it’s allowed to drain, the thicker the cheese will be. I also read that the cheese is tangier if it’s allowed to drain at room temperature vs. draining in the refrigerator so I usually transfer mine to the fridge once my plain, homemade yogurt gets to the Greek stage like the photo above. Here’s how I string it up to continue draining in the fridge. I love my Pampered Chef bowl for this job, but you could also put the bag in a colander and the colander into a large bowl to catch the whey.
I made a big batch this time because I wanted to experiment with some different flavors while keeping some of it plain for cooking. If I am just going to make plain yogurt cheese I just add a bit of salt, and in this case, I added 1 tsp. It’s best to add just a little, let it sit for a bit and then give it a taste to see if it needs more.
Once the plain yogurt cheese had been seasoned with some salt, I took a bit out of the batch to make Herb and Garlic Yogurt Cheese. I used fresh parsley and chives from the garden along with some fresh minced garlic. Delicious!
I still have lots of the plain yogurt cheese left from this batch and my plan is to try some new recipes that are running around in my brain. Next up, some yogurt cheese with a bit of garlic, fresh basil, and some sun dried tomatoes from the garden. Can’t wait!