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Homemade Goat Cheese (Labneh)

While not the commercial way to make goat cheese, Labneh is cheese made by draining fresh yogurt and shaping it into balls (but tastes exactly the same!).

Even if you don’t use yogurt made from goats milk, Greek yogurt is transformed into a soft tangy cheese that tastes just like goat cheese. Add a few herbs and spices and you have the perfect bite-sized appy.

GoatCheeseLabneh1

Start  by sterilizing a (3) 12” squares of cheesecloth along with a few feet of kitchen string in boiling water for about 4 minutes. Drain then lay the layers of cheesecloth over a plate or inside a colander.

In a bowl mix together the yogurt and salt then pour into the center of the cheesecloth. Bring up the sides of the cheesecloth and tie the bundle securing with the string, leaving enough string at the end to tie a loop to hang the bundle. If the yogurt is rapidly seeping through the layers of cheesecloth, then you’ll probably need to add another layer of cheesecloth. All that should be dripping out is thin watery liquid.

To suspend the bundle, place a small bowl in the bottom of a large stock pot to catch the draining liquid and place a wooden spoon across the top of the pot, looping the yogurt bundle through the handle. The bundle should hang freely, not touching the sides or bottom. Drape a clean piece of cheesecloth over the pot and let sit at room temperature in a cool dark spot for 1-3 days or until the dripping stops and the cheese has firmed up (squeeze the ball, by twisting it from the top end, to ensure all liquid has been released). If you live in a hot humid climate, you can let it hang in the fridge but it will take a bit long to fully drain.

After 24 hours, prepare the oil infusion: place the garlic and oil together in a sterilized jar and let sit overnight at room temperature (or until cheese is ready).

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Once the cheese is ready, discard the cheesecloth and shape the cheese into teaspoon-sized balls*.  Place the balls into a sterilized jar(s), then sprinkle with the remaining herbs from the oil infusion and top up with the garlic-infused oil (discard garlic). Ensure the cheese is completely covered by the oil.

Let marinate at least 8 hours at room temperature before eating. Store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks (the oil will solidify, but it quickly ‘melts’ once at room temperature again).

Note: To increase its ‘shelf life’, once the balls are initially shaped, place them on a clean plate (not touching) and cover with a clean piece of cheesecloth. Place in fridge for 1-2 days until the balls are significantly more firm and drier in consistency. Now you can pack them in the sterilized jars with the oil as noted above, and they will keep for up to a month when stored in a cool dark place – perfect for gift giving.

Homemade Goat Cheese (Labneh)
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Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
You’ll need some cheesecloth and string so don’t forget to get that ready (and sterilized) before starting.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt*
  • 1 tsp salt
Oil Infusion
  • 1 ¼ cups olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • Spicy - 2 tsp crushed dried chilies, 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped, 1 Tbsp fresh thyme or oregano, chopped
  • Mild – 3 Tbsp fresh herbs (tarragon, parsley, chives), ½ tsp lemon zest, salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Sterilize (3) 12” squares of cheesecloth along with a few feet of kitchen string in boiling water for about 4 minutes. Drain then lay the layers of cheesecloth over a plate or inside a colander.
  2. In a bowl mix together the yogurt and salt then pour into the center of the cheesecloth. Bring up the sides of the cheesecloth and tie the bundle securely with the string, leaving enough string at the end to tie a loop to hang the bundle.
  3. To suspend the yogurt bundle, place a small bowl in the bottom of a pot to catch the draining liquid, place a wooden spoon across the top of the large pot and loop the bundle through the handle. The bundle should hang freely, not touching the sides or bottom.
  4. Drape a clean piece of cheesecloth over the pot, then let sit at room temperature in a cool dark spot for 1-3 days or until the dripping stops and the cheese has firmed up (squeeze the ball to ensure all liquid has been released). If you live in a hot humid climate, you can store it in the fridge it will just take a bit long.
  5. After 24 hours you can prepare the oil infusion: place the garlic and oil together in a sterilized jar and let sit overnight at room temperature (or until cheese is ready).
  6. Discard the cheesecloth and shape the cheese into teaspoon-sized balls*. You can immediately place the balls in a sterilized jar(s) sprinkle with the remaining herbs from the oil infusion (choosing the spicy or mild variation), then top up with the garlic-infused oil (discard garlic) ensuring the cheese is completely covered by the oil. Let marinate at least 8 hours before eating, otherwise they will be good for up to 3 weeks in the fridge (although the oil will solidify, it quickly ‘melts’ once at room temperature again).
Notes
*I have made this using yogurts with a variety of milk fat (2%, 4% or full fat) and all have worked equally well. If you can find sheep or goats milk yogurt, great, but its is not necessary at all – cows milk will still produce a wonderfully tangy cheese that you’d swear was goat cheese!
**To sterilize jars, wash well with hot soapy water, rinse and place in oven at 300F for 15 minutes. Boil lids for 3-5 minutes or as recommended on package.
-To increase the ‘shelf life’, once the balls are shaped, place them on a clean plate (not touching) and cover with a clean piece of cheesecloth. Place in fridge for 1-2 days until the balls are significantly more firm and drier in consistency. Now you can pack them in the sterilized jars with the oil as noted above, and they will keep for up to a month when stored in a cool dark place – perfect for gift giving.

 

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