How to make Labane Cheese

Illustration of Labane cheese with olive oil

"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:

Ingredients and Tools


Ingredients

  1. Yogurt
  2. Olive oil
  3. Optional Spices - Za'atar, Sesame seeds

Tools

  1. Strong, non-tear paper towels (or proper cheese-cloth)
  2. Large colander
  3. Large deep bowl (so the colander will have plenty of room beneath it)
  4. Container for the cheese. 
  5. Boiling water - for sterilizing the paper / cloth, and container

You need about 1.5 Liters of Yogurt. 

Important:

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.

Labane is made from yogurt

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. 

paper towel


Instructions


1. Place the colander in the bowl.

place colander in 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.

line the colander with strong paper towels

4. Pour the yogurt into the paper-lined colander. 

pour the yogurt - Homemade Labane Cheese recipe

5. Fold the corners over the yogurt.

6. Cover the top with two more sterilized paper towels.

7. Let it drip!

Now we wait.


Suggestion: 

Drink the water that comes out of the yogurt! It's full of minerals and good stuff!

cover yogurt with paper
how to make labane cheese

Don't let the bottom of the colander sit in the water!

Most of the water will come out during the first 2 hours. Drain as needed.
If the bottom sits in the water the cheese will never dry and become "cheese".


Let the cheese drip and dry on the counter, at room temperature, for 24 hours.

let drip overnight



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.

cover cheese with olive oil to preserve it

Here's a real picture :-)

home-made Labane cheese

Delicious Labane ideas

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.

My favorite:
Toasted bread, with a layer of Lababne, avocado, and smoked salmon.

Try adding it to Tahini, or as a side dish for eggplants.

Enjoy!




Join the Israel Illustrated Journey!

Come with me as I travel to different places in Israel and draw them, illustrate a new recipe or find interesting stories unique to this country. 

Fill the form below to get a monthly update, and never miss a postcard!




More yummy Israeli food: