Low-fat, yoghurt based cheese: Labane

Here’s something that has happened to, if not all, then probably most of us:
You’re sitting there, stuck in rush hour on your way to or back from somewhere, your mind wanders off, in the background the voices on the radio just turns into mumbling and then suddenly…

Low-fat Israeli yoghurt based cheese: Labane

…you catch yourself thinking:

«Hmmm.. I wonder how I can make my own low-fat yoghurt based cheese.. They don’t have it at my local supermarket and it’s a thing that somewhat frequently seems to have occupied my mind lately…»

Well, fear not my friend: No need to ponder any further. Nor will there be a need to follow the white rabbit dressed in a waist-coat, with a watch in his pocket down a rabbit-hole to be released (’cause I’m pretty sure that was your solution). I hereby bring you the recipe, based on an ancient family recipe from Israel, so that you can be prepared for the Mad Tea Party!

In Israel many cheeses are available in reduced or non-fat varieties, but in Norway «low-fat» equals between 11-17% fat.
The Shabbat (saturday) breakfast in Israel is often a hearty brunch of cold foods such as olives, yoghurt, breads, jams, various cheeses such as cream cheese, cottage cheese, labane, etc, and smoked and pickled fish, It is accompanied by hot tea or coffee. Salad is eaten at almost every Israeli meal, with oil, lemon juice and a whole lot of vegetables.
This cheese goes well with a breakfast like mentioned, or just plain as a spread in a pita or on a slice of bread, with optional slices of tomato and za’atar (a spice).

For the ground recipe you will need the following items:

  • 500 grams low-fat yoghurt. You can choose whichever yoghurt you want – I use one with 3.5% fat. For those of you that use other measurements than the metric system, I can inform you that 500 grams equals 17.6369 ounces, 1.10231 pound, 0.078736 stone, 2500 carat – in other words: 0.5 kilogram.
  • 1 clove of crushed garlic
  • The juice of ½ lemon
  • A teaspoon or less/more of salt

Equipment:

  • Sieve
  • Thin cloth
  • Bowl

Those are the basics – that’s everything you need to make the Middle Eastern low-fat yoghurt based cheese called Labane. This cheese is very popular in Israel and probably also in the neighbouring countries.

But, I prefer to play around with recipes and add more or less random stuff in order to make things more interesting. Spice things up a little bit. So, here’s my additions to the basic recipe. My additions are totally optional and the cheese is no longer Labane if you add them:

  • Finely grated peel of ½ lemon (only the yellow – NOT the white!)
  • Fresh chives, chopped
  • Fresh oregano, chopped

So what do I do now?!?

  1. Mix the basics: the yoghurt, crushed garlic, salt & the lemon juice.
    (add the optionals: the herbs & the lemon peel) .
  2. Place the sieve over a bowl.
  3. Place the thin cloth (I use an old cotton cloth) over the sieve.
  4. Pour the yoghurt mix into the cloth.
  5. Put the corners of the cloth on top of the yoghurt (you don’t want the cloth to be outside the bowl).
  6. Place the whole thing in the fridge for 1-2 days, then it’s ready to be consumed.

Keep it refrigerated in a plastic box closed with a lid.
You’re now ready for a Mad Tea Party!

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