Smooth & creamy with a hint of tartness to wake up the tastebuds, this cultured cheese is simple to make and a joy to eat! Use in place of cream cheese, quark or ricotta.
What Inspired Me To Make This Cheese?
After much denial and a drawn out testing process, I recently discovered that I have a dairy intolerance. (SAD FACE.)
Thankfully my reaction appears limited to cow’s milk and goat dairy products are so far, so good!
Whilst travelling through the Gold Coast of Australia recently, I discovered this UNBELIEVABLY tasty cow’s milk alternative…Goat’s curd. It tastes almost exactly like labneh, only with a sharper more distinct ‘cultured’ taste.
(Here I am, like – You beauty! Cheese is back on the menu!!)
…Except for the fact that when I got home and tried to find goat curd, it was difficult to source and more within my ‘special treat’ vs ‘everyday food’ budget.
As I’ve done a fair bit of cheese making & used to regularly make labneh, I set out to trial it with goat’s milk instead. And guess what? It worked better than I could have hoped!!
What Is Labneh?
In a literal sense, labneh is strained yoghurt. As you’ll discover in the recipe below, it is made by straining the whey from cultured yoghurt, leaving behind a cream cheese like consistency with a distinct cultured sour taste. Personally, I find it very similar to quark!
Labneh is popular in Middle Eastern and Greek cuisine and can be used as a spread or star ingredient for both sweet and savoury dishes.
What Is Goat’s Curd?
Technically, true goat curd is literally the fresh batch of curd that is separated from the whey during the cheese making process. Unlike other cheese, theis curd is not aged. It has a soft, creamy (almost ‘fluffy’) texture and a tangy, mildly soured taste.
Therefore, my ‘goat’s’ labneh’ is not a true ‘goat curd’ but I think it makes a good second best without the hassle of cheese making from scratch and for a fraction of the cost to buy it ready made!
How To Make Labneh or “Goat’s Curd”
The great news is that the process to make LABNEH and my version of GOAT CURD is completely the same. You just use different products to get going
If you’re making labneh, choose a high quality cultured cow’s milk yoghurt as your base (I typically go for pot set brands like Jalna or bornhoffen). If you would like to make Goat’s Curd, you will need goat milk yoghurt to start with.
Aside from that, you simply need lemon juice and salt! In terms of cooking equipment, you will need: 1 mixing bowl, spoon, muslin/cheese cloth, rubber band or string and a glass jar for hanging the cheese. See here:
Putting it together takes less than ten minutes! Here’s a visual guide to how it’s done. (Please note full recipe notes are down below.)
First, place your yoghurt, salt & lemon juice into your mixing bowl and stir together. (Don’t reduce your salt quantity as this is important for flavour and food preservation.)
Next, secure your muslin so that it forms a ‘pouch’ on the inside of your hanging jar. (If you have a wide funnel, you can also use that). Sometimes it is easier to work with muslin if you dampen it first.
Slowly pour your mixture into the muslin, ensuring that the muslin pouch doesn’t bust open – you don’t want to lose precious yoghurt! Clamp the yoghurt mixture into a rough ball of muslin and tie to the top of the jar.
Ensure that there is enough space between the base of the jar and the hanging ‘ball’ for the whey to drip through. Depending on the size of the jar, you may need to decant excess whey, as the labneh/curd will not drain properly if it is sitting in the whey. Refrigerate and leave to drain for a minimum of 12 hours. (Note: The longer you leave to hang, the firmer your labneh/curd will be.) Once you are happy with the texture, set aside the whey…Just don’t throw it, see below for tips on how to use up excess whey!).
You now have options! You can store the labneh/curd in a jar with oil and eat plain as you need it. (Always ensure there is enough oil to cover the cheese.)
OR…You can get creative with flavours! Here’s what I did:
I rolled the curd/labneh into approaximately 2tbsp serving-size balls and rolled them in finely diced fresh thyme and dried chilli flakes.
In my olive oil mixture, I placed:
1 tbsp mixed peppercorns
2 sprigs rosemary
Sliced peel of half a lemon (unwaxed)
2 red chillis, sliced
A little sea salt
A couple of cloves of garlic
And there you have it! Your sensational goat curd/labneh is ready to eat!
Ideas for using labneh & goat curd:
Use as a creamy savoury spread on wraps, sandwiches, toasted sandwiches, panninis
Serve sweet with a drizzle of honey with poached or fresh fruit
Spread on fruit toast with sliced banana and cinnamon
Use as a substitute for ricotta in spinach ricotta pastries or filo
Serve with dukkah & balsamic glaze and olive oil with bread on platters or for entrees
Spread with avocado in place of feta…Plus microherbs if you’re feelin’ fancy!
Tips for using whey:
Add it to smoothies for an awesome hit of high-quality protein
Use it as a starter culture for fermentation (for example, I ferment dried nuts, seeds, cacao and chia in whey to form a gorgeous formented spread)
Substite milk for whey when making pancakes, cakes, muffins and other healthy baked goods
Use it to sprout/ferment nuts, seeds & grains
Labneh & “Goat Curd” Recipe Notes
PREP TIME: 15 mins
HANGING TIME: minimum 12 hrs
EQUIPMENT: 1 mixing bowl, spoon, muslin/cheese cloth, rubber band or string and a glass jar for hanging the cheese
For the labneh:
2 cups plain unsweetened yoghurt (cows or goat)
Juice of one lemon
2 tsp salt
Inspiration for labneh flavourings (please note you can leave plain):
Any combo of the following…
· olive oil (preferably virgin & cold-pressed)
· lemon rind
· fresh dill
· nigella seeds
· chopped thyme
Please note: Use clean hands & sterile containers if you wish to store labneh. As with any fermented or cultured product, hygiene is paramount!
In a small bowl, whisk together the yoghurt, lemon and salt.
Find a tall, glass jar and line the inside with butter muslin to form an inverted funnel.
Pour the yoghurt mixture into the muslin. Tighten muslin up top to form a yoghurt ball and gently squeeze. A little bit of whey should ooze out.
Secure muslin ball to top of jar, ensuring that there is ample space underneath for the whey to drip out. Cover and leave to hang and drip for 12 hours.
If you wish to have a firmer labneh, wrap the muslin once more time over the labneh ball and stack between two plates as a weight. (Alternatively, I use a small metal sieve for drainage, with the labneh and weight stacked on top.) Set for another few hours. Or, you can just leave it hanging for longer in the fridge if you don’t mind the wait!
Serve as is…OR roll balls in your desired flavourings. Store fully submerged in oil within in a sterile glass jar.
So there you have it! My easy homemade ‘goat curd’ with gorgeous flavour-infused oil.
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