I learned about strained yogurt many years ago at one of my earliest cooking classes. We did not call it Greek yogurt or Labneh, but rather yogurt cheese or yogurt cream cheese. Labneh is a Middle Eastern strained yogurt. It is similar to Greek yogurt (which is also strained yogurt) but because labneh is strained for a longer period of time, it is thicker than Greek yogurt, similar in texture to a soft cream cheese. It is super simple to make, you just need a 32 ounce container of plain yogurt, a strainer, some cheese cloth or white paper towels and time. It takes about 24-48 hours for enough of the whey to drain off the yogurt to get the desired consistency.
32 ounce container plain low-fat or fat-free yogurt
Line a strainer with cheese cloth or white paper towels. Empty the yogurt into the lined strainer and place the strainer on top of a medium-sized bowl to collect the whey that will drain off of the yogurt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. In about 12 hours, empty the whey that has collected at the bottom of the bowl and return to the refrigerator for another 12-24 hours.
Here’s a comparison in the consistency based on the length of time you strain the yogurt:
12 hours is similar to Greek yogurt
24 hours is perfect for dips
36-48 hours is similar to soft cream cheese
Use labneh as a savory spread or dip with herbs, cracked pepper and olive oil or as a sweeter spread with honey, cinnamon and berries. I love to spread it on toast with my favorite whole fruit jam.
Nutrition Note: Using low-fat or fat-free yogurt will keep the saturated fat content lower and it will still result in a thick, creamy, velvety spread. Draining yogurt concentrates the protein content of yogurt. That’s why, ounce per ounce, Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt but you will lose a little of the calcium during the draining process.