Yogurt Cheese - 'Labanee', in Arabic

Recipe by Toby Jermain
READY IN: 24hrs


  • 2
    quarts yogurt (Non-fat, low-fat, or full-fat are all OK. Pick a brand with a minimal amount of gelatin, pectin, or)
  • 12
    teaspoon salt (optional)
  • extra virgin olive oil (very optional)


  • Although the original recipe doesn’t call for non-fat yogurt, non-fat works fine.
  • Some recipes almost demand a little fat to smooth their texture on the tongue.
  • This can be provided by beating a little bit of mayonnaise or olive oil into the non-fat yogurt cheese.
  • It’s still fat, but at least it’s cholesterol free fat.
  • If you are skinny and don’t have to worry about dietary fat, you can use low-fat or whole-milk yogurt, and then you won’t have to worry about adding oil.
  • Bring 2 quarts of yogurt to room temperature, and stir thoroughly to smooth and break up all lumps.
  • Optionally, you can add ½ Tsp salt (original recipe, we usually don’t, because we use this for so many different things).
  • Line a colander with a couple of dampened paper towels or a clean, dampened, loose weave cotton towel.
  • Pour yogurt into the colander, cover with another paper towel or plastic wrap.
  • Place in the sink, or in a bowl which is small enough to hold the colander away from its bottom.
  • Let drain for about 8 hours for sour cream consistency or for 24 hours for cream cheese consistency; the longer it drains, the thicker it gets.
  • If you are a real freak, you can refrigerate the yogurt while it drains, but it’s not really necessary.
  • Yogurt is a living organism; it is cultured in warmth, and it thrives on it (within reason).
  • Draining will normally reduce the yogurt by about half for sour cream consistency, or by about two-thirds for cream cheese consistency.
  • We normally go all the way to cream cheese consistency and mix in a little low-fat milk if we need it thinner.