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Farm Fresh Milk Recipes

LABNEH:  sometimes called Lebanese cheese balls, these petite delicacies are of Middle Eastern origin,  Made with yogurt, olive oil, and spices, they can be served as an appetizer with cherry tomatoes and/or olives, served with crackers or small bread slices, or added on top of a salad.  Very healthy, tasty, and unique.  Once you have tasted one, you can't stop until you put the lid back on the jar!  It takes just a few minutes a day to make, but a few days overall to prepare.  They can be served fresh, but I think they taste better if they can cure longer, and so that is how I have written this recipe.

Day One:

Place a cheesecloth over a colander set on top of a larger bowl.  Place 4 cups of yogurt on top of cloth, letting it drain out into the lower bowl.  Gather the corners of the cheese cloth, twisting gently so that the yogurt drains out more.  Wrap, then twist the gathered ends of the cheese cloth around a wooden spoon to secure the yogurt filled cloth, setting the length of the spoon over the sides of the colander.  This will allow the yogurt to further drain over the bowl.  Place the entire set-up in a refrigerator for 2-3 days for all the liquid to drain out.

Day Three or Four: 

Unwrap the cheesecloth and set the solid mass of drained yogurt on a clean cutting surface.  It should be the consistency of firm cream cheese.  With a knife, slice the cheese into 3/4"-1" cubes.  They can be slightly smaller or larger, it is not an exact science.  The whey (liquid) in the lower bowl can be refrigerated in a jar or container and used in baking instead of milk or water - it is especially good for pancakes, IMHO.

In a small bowl, place about 1 cup of dry spices of your liking.  I use curry powder, or basil, or Italian seasoning.  Have a clean plate ready.  Take each chunk of the yogurt and roll into a small ball with the palms of your hands. This takes about 5 seconds, and you don't want to over roll them or they will turn to mush.  Some will be more firm than others.  Place on plate as you go.  Do this until you have several dozen balls.  They should be about the size of a cherry tomato or grape, not as big as a golf ball.

Fill a pint jar (this can be a canning jar or an old olive jar, but will need a lid) about half full of olive oil.  Take one ball at a time and roll it in the spices, then drop in the jar so it is covered in the olive oil.  As the jar fills, you may need to add a bit more oil.  If you fill the jar and still have some left, start filling another jar.  You DO NOT WANT TO PACK THEM.  Each ball should be surrounded by oil and be able to have space for retention of its round shape.

When finished, put the lid on, and place jar in the refrigerator.  They should stay in the jar at least 3-4 days for the flavors to infuse. 


Serve.  I have stored these for up to three weeks without spoilage, but they will be devoured quickly, and probably won't last that long!

I'll try to post a photo soon, but in the meantime you can engine search for an image.  I use both cow and goat milk to make my own yogurt, and both work for making LABNEH.

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