"Labane" (la-ba-ne) is a general name for a sour, white cheese.
It's made from yogurt - usually goat-milk yogurt, but you can make it with cow-milk yogurt too. Delicious with pita-bread, this cheese is a corner-stone in the Israeli cuisine.
You can make your own - it's so easy! All you need is yogurt.
There are many versions to Labane: Soft and low fat for spreading, or very hard cheese balls, very fatty, that you get in a jar of olive oil with spices.
It goes with salty and bitter spices, like Za'atar, or with spicy-hot Chilly flakes.
Here is my mom's recipe:
You need about 1.5 Liters of Yogurt.
Choose low fat yogurt with NOTHING in it. No fruit, no sweeteners, no "bio".
Just a simple straight yogurt.
If you can't find a large jug, buy 6-8 small cups.
Good quality Olive Oil
We will cover the cheese in the end with olive oil in order to preserve it. It's also the perfect companion to this cheese.
Get a roll of Durable, non-tearing paper towels.
This is different from the regular paper towels. It has to be strong paper that will not tear in water.
If you can find food-grade paper towel that's best. Otherwise, please follow the sterilization instructions further down.
1. Place the colander in the bowl.
2. Line the colander with 3 sheets of paper towel.
3. Pour Boiling water over the paper to sterilize it.
Let cool for a bit, the throw away the water.
Sterilize two more squares of paper- you will need them to cover the top.
**If you're not sure your paper-towels are food grade, repeat this step a second time.
4. Pour the yogurt into the paper-lined colander.
5. Fold the corners over the yogurt.
6. Cover the top with two more sterilized paper towels.
7. Let it drip!
Now we wait.
Drink the water that comes out of the yogurt! It's full of minerals and good stuff!
Let the cheese drip and dry on the counter, at room temperature, for 24 hours.
8. Carefully remove the top paper, and see how it looks. You can let it dry longer if you want harder cheese, or stop after 24 hours for a soft spread.
9. Sterilize a container of a suitable size (don't forget to treat the lid, too).
10. Hold the edges of the bottom paper layers (it's all very wet, that's fine), and move your Labane cheese directly into the prepared container.
11. Pour good quality olive oil over the Labane. Cover it completely to preserve it.
12. Add spices only right before eating.
Here's a real picture :-)
Labane goes best with soft bread. Hot Pita-bread is it's most popular mate.
The Druze make a very large and thin pita (Pita - Druzit) on a hot oven, and roll it with labane and spices.
Toasted bread, with a layer of Lababne, avocado, and smoked salmon.
Try adding it to Tahini, or as a side dish for eggplants.
How about a good salad to go with the cheese?
Here's the basic recipe for the Israeli Salad, with lots of ideas on how to boost it: