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Labneh/Labna (D, KLP, TNT)
Source: From "Preserving," by Oded Schwartz
Yield: About 2-1/2 pints

8 cups plain yogurt
1/3 cup virgin olive oil
Grated rind and juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons dried mint (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme (optional)
1 tablespoon salt
Olive oil, to cover

Place the yogurt, virgin olive oil, lemon rind and juice, dried mint, thyme, and salt in a large glass bowl. Beat with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Line a large bowl with a double layer of sterilized cheesecloth, leaving plenty of the material overlapping the sides. Pour in the yogurt mixture.

Tie the ends of the cloth together and secure with string. Hang the mixture over a bowl. Let the yogurt drain in a cool pantry or unheated room between (42°F to 46°F or 6°C to 8°C), for 2-3 days in winter or 2 days in summer. On hot days, you may have to keep the mixture in the bottom of the refrigerator.

Chill the well-drained mixture until it is firm to touch, this makes it easier to handle.

Using your fingers, shape the resulting soft cheese into 1-1/2" (4cm) balls.

Chill the cheese balls again if necessary, so they keep their shape, then arrange them in sterilized wide-mouth pint canning jars. (You will need 3, the recipes make 2-1/2 pints)

Pour the olive oil into the jar, making sure that the cheese balls are completely covered. Rap the jars several times on a work surface to be sure there are no air pockets, then seal. The cheese balls are ready to eat immediately.

Poster's Notes:
Brian Mailman says: Yes, that's it pretty much. What it was that Vivi referred to was that I use yogurt _without_ any kind of gelatin, very important, and I don't mix in herbs while draining.

After the "cheese" is made, I mix in salt, pepper, and maybe some minced garlic. Maybe some red pepper flakes.

I roll the balls in za'atar and then pour on the olive oil. Gently. On the side of the bowl, because the balls are still quite soft.

I let it sit overnight before bringing out the bowl, and serving with pita petals (wedges) and maybe a a few lemon wedges to squeeze over it. My Lebanese-American friend calls this way preparing it "shanglesh" (shang-gleesh). The oil can be used later in herbal vinaigrettes or drizzled over broiled fish steaks.

Viviane Barzel says: I think addition of lemon rinds, and thyme in the draining yogurt is Oded Shwartz's own version.

The only additions to the yogurt is salt and sometimes addition of sour cream.

Instead of making little balls, place the cheese on a plate, decorate with triangular nachos all around, "plant" pine nuts, or sunflower seeds on the cheese.

Posted by Susan Greene

Nutritional Info Per Serving: N/A