Labna, middle eastern yoghurt cheese

This cream cheese is sour, creamy and so easy to make. I make it with raw milk bought from the farm gate at Ratabank farms in The Glen, Nelson.

All you need to make this labna is one litre of milk, raw is best or non homogenised pasteurised if raw is not available. Plus about three tablespoons of yoghurt, buy the best you can find, the best is without powdered milk or gums or thickeners as  ingedients and contains a good variety of probiotic cultures. My favourite is Doctors choice Bio Yoghurt. Made in New Zealand from grass fed cows.

You can keep some of the yoghurt from your culture for your next batch but only if you use pasteurised milk not raw milk. The raw milk culture does not keep well for a second batch.

The cows are milked daily and if you get there at the right time you can watch the milking and get the fresh milk a few minutes after it has come from the cow.

The cows have just had their calves so there is also beautiful rich cream available. I make fresh butter from the cream (to be blogged about another time). Here the mum cow jumped the fence of her paddock so she could come up the path and find her baby calf.

Gently heat one litre of the milk over a low heat. Heat to 110c degrees if you have raw milk, to retain the enzymes. If you have regular milk, make sure it is non homogenised and heat to 180c degrees then allow to cool to 115c degrees. Then whisk in your yoghurt starter, cover and put in a warm place for 12 to 24 hours.

When the yoghurt has set prepare a sieve over a bowl or jug lined wth either a double layer of muslin or a clean tea towel. Pour the yoghurt into the sieve and leave to drain for 12-24 hoursin the fridge.

When the cheese is quite firm empty it out into a bowl, stir in the salt and any other flavourings you desire, such as lemon zest, dried chillies or chopped olives. The left over whey is full of protein, use it in soups, smoothies or it can be used as a starter for fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut.

Chop the fresh herbs, I like chives or parsley, but it really depends on what I have in the garden, at the moment as it’s moving into winter the chives are very slow, so parsley it is. Sprinkle half the herbs on a plate and empty the cheese on top then pat into a round shape and cover with the rest of the herbs.

Yummy on flax seed crackers or piled onto celery sticks


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