Labane Recipe
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Labane at SquidooLabane (also spelled labaneh) is a cheese that is made from yogurt.  It's often spread on bread or eaten with other salads.  It is very easy to make, but there are a few tricks to getting it to taste how you like it.  Once you've had the real thing made from raw milk from a healthy, well tended family dairy cow, it's hard to go back, but there are some things you can do to get it tasty enough to do the job.

One of them is to find yogurt that is made from whole milk or "full cream".  If you can't, then try to find full fat (23% more or less) sour cream, and mix that with your yoghourt, and let it sit for a couple of days.  Don't use sweet or fresh cream for this because it is not fermented.

Some people add olive oil to make up for the missing fat in reduced fat yogurt, but this isn't a good idea for those of us trying to limit our intake of unsaturated fats.  Olive oil is the lesser of evils compared to corn oil or something, but it is still not milk fat.  Besides, olive oil is normally an addition to labane at the table or in storage anyway.
How to Make Labane
    2 liters of "full cream" yogurt
  • 1 large cheesecloth or clean white inside-out pillow case
  • 1 colander or strainer
  • 1 bowl that the colander can set on top of without dipping into the liquid.  The bowl should be large enough that it can contain at least a liter of liquid.

Leave the yogurt out in a closed container until you see that curds are starting to form.  This could take as little as 2 hours in summer.  Pour the yogurt into the pillowcase or cheesecloth.  If you used a pillow case, tie the bottom corners together so that yogurt doesn't run out of the place where the seams meet the fold.

Liquid will start oozing out immediately, but don't worry.  Just gently twist the case until it meets the yogurt.  You may want to tie it or secure it with a rubber band at that point.
Yogurt turning to cheese
Letting time do its work...
Set this "bag" of yogurt in the colander on top of the bowl, and let time do its work.  For soft spreadable labane, just leave it overnight.  For somewhat harder balls of labane, leave it for 24-48 hours until it feels like a firm dough.
Discard the liquid that is in the bowl, and transfer the contents of the bag to an airtight container, and keep it refrigerated.
If you want to make labaneh balls, you'll need to store these in olive oil.  Just roll the cheese into balls, and put them in a jar, and then fill it with olive oil to cover all of the balls.  You can also add dried herbs to give it more flavor.  I recommend zaatar, rosemary, or red pepper flakes.
Related recipe: Druze Pita

© 2009 Nicole T. Lasher