24ounceswhole milk yogurtwithout additives or flavors
fresh thyme leaves
Set a mesh strainer over a large bowl. The bowl should be deep enough so that there are at least a few inches of space between the bottom of the bowl and the strainer.
Line the strainer with a fine mesh nylon straining bag (or 2 layers of cheesecloth.) I like nylon bags instead of cheesecloth because they last forever and are so much easier to clean. They can be rinsed and laundered over and over again.
Turn the yogurt out into the lined strainer. Sprinkle with a little salt.
Pull the fabric up around the yogurt and twist it tightly so liquid starts dripping into the bowl (you can use a clip if you like to hold it tight.) Place a small plate on top, and then weight it down with a brick or heavy can. Set this in the fridge for 24 hours. Check it once or twice to make sure that it's draining. If not, increase the pressure, and make sure the yogurt is sitting above the liquid. The longer you let it drain, the thicker the cheese will become. It can go up to 48 hours, but usually 24 hours is sufficient.
Turn the labneh out of the bag and discard the whey. (You can use the whey in baking or cooking if you like.)
Now you have two choices...you can put your labneh in an airtight container and refrigerate it as is, or you can roll it into balls. To roll into balls, roll 1 inch balls between your palms. I like to lightly oil my hands, this seems to make the surface of the cheese nice and smooth and shiny. Put the balls in a clean jar.
When all the cheese has been rolled, fill the jar with olive oil, enough to cover all the balls. Add the lemon zest and thyme.
Will keep, refrigerated, for about a week.
This is a fresh cheese, so it won't last as long as regular aged cheese will, so plan to eat it within a week.
Make it vegan ~ I haven't tried this but I assume you can use non dairy yogurt to make labneh. The only issue would be to find a yogurt without any flavors or additives.
Make it skinnier ~ use low fat or even fat free yogurt.
Make it dip-able ~ if you'd like to use your labneh as a simple dip, like hummus, just drain it for less time. The resulting cheese with be spoonable and delicious. Top with a swirl of great olive oil, a sprinkling of herbs, and dive in with warm pita.