Lebneh is amazing. It’s a Lebanese cheese made by straining plain yogurt. It’s a lot like cream cheese, and can be used just like it. Lebneh makes a great dip with onion and chives mixed in.
It’s also great on bagels.
We have a Lebanese friend who makes lebneh to put in her Easter basket every year. I think it’s infinitely tastier than hrudka, a sweet egg cheese made in eastern Europe. I’ll write about traditional Easter baskets later, though. Today I’m just focusing on the basics of making lebneh.
The things you need to make about a cup of creamy cheesy goodness are: a quart of yogurt, cheesecloth or a smooth dishtowel, a strainer, a bowl, a rubber band, and a hook to hang the draining cheese on.
First, place the strainer on top of the bowl. Line the strainer with cheesecloth (I used a large woven dishtowel).
Dump the yogurt into the center of the towel.
Grab all four corners, creating a bag with the cloth. Use a rubber band to close it up, creating a neat little ball of yogurt.
For the straining, you have a few options. You can leave the yogurt sitting in the strainer, or you can hang it. I think it drains better when it hangs. Put the bowl underneath to catch dripping whey.
Let it drain for at least 18 hours. I let mine hang all day, then put it in the strainer in the fridge overnight. After 20 hours of draining, my lebneh looked like this:
Nice and firm. Just to show you the yogurt:lebneh conversion ratio, here’s a side-by-side. It takes THAT much yogurt to make THAT much lebneh.
Flavor as you like and enjoy! I plan to use it instead of cream cheese to make Taste of Home’s Raspberry Cream Cheese pastry.
I’ll post about that later, too. For now, enjoy your lebneh!