Lebna

It’s been a long time since I made labneh.  If you’ve never eaten it, it’s a spreadable Middle Eastern yogurt.  You tear off a piece of pita bread, use it to scoop up some of the spread, and pop it in your mouth.  It’s very easy to make, and delicious, but a bit time-consuming.

It also is a welcome diversion from staff meetings and the syllabus stuff I’m supposed to be writing.

In Jordan, we made it with a liter of whole milk and a container of yogurt (the kind with live cultures). Here I have a gallon of milk and two yogurts.

First, you heat the milk until a skin forms on the top.  Do not start blogging and forget it is on the stove.


Let it cool a little, then lift the skin off the top.  Check the temperature with your wrist the same way you would check a baby bottle to make sure it’s not too hot, then stir in the yogurt.  Cover it and put it in a warm place overnight.  I covered it with the pan lid;  in Jordan we used blankets.

The next day it will be nice and thick, and it will have a nice yogurt smell.

Spoon it into a bag for draining.


Then hang it up. In Jordan this would go on the balcon for the afternoon and the juice would drip out on to the balcony floor and trickle onto the street below. In the U.S. it can hang over the bathtub.

After eight hours or so, depending on how thick you want it, you can take it out of the bag and store it in the fridge.

This reminds me of the bowls of tzatziki with fresh pita that they bring to your table in Greece when you sit down at a restaurant. It’s made with thick lebna as a base, mixed with garlic and small cubes of cucumbers.

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