Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lebna - yogurt cheese

I found several spellings for this, I am not sure which is correct but anyway I will spell it Lebna, but you could spell it labneh, labne or labanah.  This is a wonderful creamy cheese that can be eaten by those who are lactose intolerant.  I first had this at Nuba restaurant in Vancouver (which I highly recommend.  Having had it there I had to make some.  

It is basicaly drained yogurt, I found several versions my favourite was marinating the lebna in olive oil so this is the recipe I am blogging.

1 650g container of plain yogurt.  It has to be without gelatin, but after that any plain yogurt will do.
1 teaspoon of salt.
Fresh sprigs of thyme
Olive oil to cover (about 1 1/2 cups)

Mix the yogurt and salt together then either place in a yogurt strainer or place in a strainer lined with cheese cloth.

Yogurt with yogurt strainer
I bought my strainer from Ming Wo on South Granville for about $20.00.  This has been one of those kitchen gadgets that for me was well worth it and is also worth the storage space.  Apart from making Lebna (which I have many times) you can also use it to just strain yogurt to get a nice rich Greek style yogurt from a rather thin 2% one.

One container just fits in the yogurt strainer or it would fill a small strainer.  Put in the fridge for 36 hours to strain all the liquid out.  To make a rich Greek style yogurt strain for 12 to 24 hours.

As you can see a lot of liquid is drained out, the yogurt has shrunk to about 1/2 the amount. Scoop out on to kitchen paper (paper towel) to drain further.

You can drain these in the fridge for a couple of more hours to dry out or just  go ahead and place in a jar with a good quality olive oil in it and some fresh sprigs of thyme.

This will keep for several days in the oil and is delicious spread on crackers.  I made this to take to the Sunshine Coast this weekend I thought it would go well with some good olives and a glass of chilled white wine before dinner sometime over the weekend.


  1. I love this stuff, but I make it with a basket-sized ( #4?) unbleached coffee filter in my smaller colander. Also very nice when flavoured with a touch of fresh lemon juice, a generous amount of lemon zest and a smackerel of sugar as a light dessert or palate cleanser. Have a great weekend and give my best wishes to ALL the birthday girls. Felicitations!

  2. Wow.. I'm reading about this/seeing this for the first time and it looks so appetizing! I am seriously making a list, have to try most of these recipes whenever I get my hands on the ingredients!!!