Ridiculously Easy Labneh Cheese


As much as I love to cook, I really, really, really, really, really, really and did I mention really HATE to shop! I don’t like to shop for clothes, shoes, craft supplies, gardening equipment, computer stuff, food, or well anything! I’m just not a shopper. I never really have been. I’d rather spend time at the park, or near a body of water or at the library or on a picnic or on a walk or with friends or well you get the picture.

Anyway, now that you get how much I hate shopping we’ll get on to the real story. Sometimes you just run across the most interesting people when you’re out and about and I just love it when you click with someone right off the bat. The other day when Alexis and I were at the market I grabbed a tub of Greek yogurt. A lady standing nearby asked me if I had ever made cheese before. I told her about my mozzarella and goat cheese. She then told me I had to try to make yogurt cheese. “Take that container of Greek Yogurt, add the juice and zest of a couple of lemons, along with a pinch of salt (which I actually forgot, but oh well), tie it up in some cheesecloth (we’ll talk more about this below), tie it onto a dowel rod and suspend it in your refrigerator overnight over a bowl and in the morning you’ve got yogurt cheese. It’s perfect and just so tangy! I forget what the actual name of the cheese is…Google ‘yogurt cheese’ and you’ll be set!” We talked for a few more minutes about other things and then went on our respective ways. I call this a drive by friendship. 😉

So it’s no surprise I was completely intrigued. I came home and got started. I Googled ‘Greek Yogurt Cheese’ and found that it’s called Labneh. I also discovered that a lot of different people make it many different ways. I decided to follow the lady’s description from the store since we hit it off so well and she swore it was the way to go. What I ended up with is a smooth, creamy cheese along the lines of goat cheese, with a hint of tangy citrus and the best part is this is ridiculously easy to make!

What You’ll Need:
1 – 1 pound container of fat free Greek yogurt (Note: I used Okios.)
The zest of 2 lemons
The juice of two lemons
A pinch of sea salt (Note: I forgot to add the salt and the cheese turned out fine.)

In a bowl stir together yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice and sea salt until fully incorporated. Place yogurt mixture into triple layered cheesecloth. (Note: I have very fine cheesecloth and I originally tried to use just one layer and the yogurt oozed through so I had to use another piece of cheesecloth and layer it to get it to work correctly.) Secure the edges of the cheesecloth into a bundle and tie onto a dowel rod:

Labneh In Cheesecloth

Place the dowel in the fridge propped up over a bowl so that the cheese can drain overnight, but make sure it’s up high enough so that the bottom of the bundle does not go into the liquid that has drained.

The next day open the cheesecloth remove the cheese. Place it into a glass jar and store in the fridge.

Labneh Chilling

Notes: You could add herbs into the cheese after it’s made by blending them in. As I mentioned this cheese has much the same consistency of goat cheese, so you could use it anywhere you would use that. It’s also cheaper to make, than to buy goat cheese so that’s always a plus. And the coolest thing…It’s fat free, though you would never, ever guess that by taste!

Homemade Goat Cheese

Homemade Goat Cheese

If you’ve been a reader of Dianne’s Dishes for a while you know I am more than obsessed with goat cheese. I love the stuff! There is just something so scrumptious about it’s tangy, creamy goodness! So when I decided to try my hand at cheese making, goat cheese was sure to follow.

The goat cheese took longer than 30 minutes, but still not long in the grand scheme of things. The goat’s milk that I bought at My Organic Market was already pasteurized as sales of raw milk here in Maryland are illegal, so I skipped the pasteurization step. I simply had to heat my gallon of milk to 86 F and add the Chevre starter. I did this Tuesday night and let it sit overnight to thicken.

Yesterday morning around 8:30 am I started the next step of the process, which is the draining process. You ladle the solids out and place it into cheesecloth in a colander and let it sit for several hours. The longer you let it sit the more firm it becomes.

Homemade Goat Cheese Draining

I decided to go for a creamier cheese and ended up with a slightly firm finished product that is somewhat spreadable. I also didn’t add any salt to the finished product, though that’s always an option. The cheese was just the right combination of tangy and creamy and I felt that salt wasn’t needed, but you can add that in if you want. You can also add in herbs and such if you like. It’s all a matter of personal taste.

You can even freeze the cheese pre-salting! I’m still amazed at how easy the whole process of making cheese is! Alexis and I are having a lot of fun making cheeses. I think we’ve found a new hobby!

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese Cheese is one of those things that most people like, and many including myself adore. As children most of us were exposed to the basic cheeses (Or more aptly in some cases cheese food whatever that means!) like American sliced cheese, cheddar, mozzarella and maybe something like Swiss. Then as we grow older we become acquainted with more diverse cheeses like the family of blue cheeses, goat cheeses, feta, among others, but no matter what, as you read this you can probably think or your favorite or favorites right off the bat! My personal favorites are buttermilk blue, Chevre, Colby, buttermilk cheese and really good Cheddar.

Cheese has been around for a very long time. A book I have discusses how shepherds who had milk stored in sheep stomachs (I know kind of gross!) found that the rennet present in the stomach caused the milk to curdle and make cheese. From there cheese making was born and oh the cheeses that have been developed over the years!

Lately I’ve become very interested in the process of making cheese. Basically you are looking at a biological/chemical process involving bacteria. What’s better than learning a little science while you’re making food? In my process of researching the art of cheese making I came across the book by Ricki Carroll entitled Home Cheese Making, Recipes For 75 Homemade Cheeses and I’ve meant to buy it for about a year. Jamison finally bought the book for me for Christmas among other kitchen goodies that we’ll talk about in the future. After reading the book I discovered that Ricki has her own cheese making supply company as well as an Internet store called the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company.

While the process of cheese making might seem a bit daunting I was definitely interested in making some of my own. I purchased a few of the starter kits and some cheese wax from Ricki’s online store and decided to give mozzarella a try first, since it looked the least daunting. Ricki has a thirty minute mozzarella and ricotta cheese kit (and I’ll be making the ricotta soon. I’ll let you know how it turns out!) and I decided that would be just perfect to get started with.

To make mozzarella you need some basic ingredients. Obviously milk is the main ingredient because we’re talking cheese here. It’s also possible to make cheese with soy or rice milks, but for my experimentation initially I’m going to use dairy. After I get the hang of the process I want to try making rice cheese for Jamison, but that’s neither here nor there at the moment.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand, you’ll also need water that is not chlorinated, citric acid, powdered or liquid rennet and cheese salt, which is actually optional. The process of making mozzarella involves using a stainless steel pot, heating milk, adding rennet, dealing with curds, using your microwave, draining whey (You know curds and whey! ;)), kneading, more microwaving, more kneading, ultimately working the cheese into a ball, and ice bath and voila…you’ve got mozzarella cheese in thirty minutes!

The process is really easy and I ended up using skim milk from South Mountain Creamery instead of the full fat variety because I got the milk before I got the kit and it turned out great! The taste is amazing and it was really very easy to make. I was very impressed with the whole process and can’t wait to try it again! The cheese came together so wonderfully and it was a lot of fun playing with it during the kneading process. Next time I make it I think I’m going to add in some herbs.

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

If you’re interested in making your own cheeses I highly recommend Ricki’s book and her online store. Who knew making cheese was that easy and you know exactly what is in it because you made it! What’s better than that? Nothing! You can use the mozzarella to make pizza, lasagna, pasta, calzones or anything else you would normally use store bought mozzarella in. Up next goat cheese and then on to ricotta and cheddar!

Irish Cheese

Irish Cheese

Yesterday we also sampled some Irish cheeses. I’ve used the Kerrygold Irish butter for several years now on special occasions and it truly is one of the best butters I have ever tasted, but this is the first time I had seen their cheese selection. It turns out their cheese is just as good! (But I figured it would be!)

We had the Aged Cheddar, the Blarney Castle (which is similar to gouda) and the Dubliner which reminded me of Parmesan, only softer. These cheeses (and the butter too!) are available at my local Giant and I know the butter (but I’m not sure about the cheeses) is also sold at Whole Foods and Safeway.