You need just 1 ingredient to make your own cream cheese and whey (or labneh and whey)- giving you two amazing products instead of one that can be used in countless ways. The labneh is creamy, light, tart and great for both sweet and savoury dishes.
1 x 1L tub of natural yoghurt (see notes)
- First, set a sieve over a bowl, so that it is sitting in the rim of the bowl with plenty of space below the sieve for the whey to strain out.
- Next, grab a natural fibre tea towel or large napkin and lay it in the sieve, taking care to ensure the edges are spread evenly overhanging the sieve (ie, centre the middle of the tea towel to lay in the centre of the sieve). I love to use linen for this, but cotton or hemp work too. Pour the full tub of yoghurt into the tea towel. Next, grab the 4 corners of the tea towel and bring them together. Begin to twirl or twist the loose parts of the tea towel until tight. The end result should look a little like a jelly fish with the yoghurt bunched up into a ball (the head of the jelly fish) and the remaining tea towel the tightly twisted arms.
- Strain your yoghurt for 8-24 hours. The longer you strain, the thicker your labneh or cream cheese will be, so this is a personal choice. I find 12 hours is perfect for me. NOTE; During the warmer or hotter months of the year (or if you live in a hot climate) you may want to do this process in the fridge. For milder weather this is perfectly fine to do on a bench top or in the pantry.
- Store your labneh and whey. After you have left your yoghurt to strain you will be left with two new products. The thick creamy part collected in the tea towel is labneh/cream cheese. The yellowish clear liquid that has collected in your bowl is whey.
If you’re not using your labneh/cream cheese straight away then store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
There is there is no need to throw the whey out- it is perfect for adding to ferments as a starter culture, adding to baking (instead of butter milk, or water/milk) or, at the least, poured over your garden. Whey can be stored in a clean container in the fridge for up to 1 month, or you can freeze it for longer storage.
- I love to use a natural, organic yoghurt that contains preferably only milk and bacteria. A “Greek” style yoghurt is perfect for this. A few great brands have ‘milk solids’ as a third ingredient which is ok. If you look for a yoghurt that is labelled as ‘pot set’ you’ll more easily avoid unwanted added ingredients like stabilisers and thickeners.
Keywords: Cream cheese, curds and whey, strained yoghurt, labneh