I wanted to make labna, the soft cheese popular in the Middle East. Basically, it’s strained yoghourt. It would clearly be expensive to make it from good shop yoghourt, like Fage, at about £5 for a 900g tub, our favourite from Greece, so I decided to start making my own. Cue intensive internet “research”…
It turns out that Lakeland are selling the Easiyo yoghourt maker for half price, which I took to be an auspicious omen. The internet says the charity shops of the country are full of the things, because people get fed up with buying the ready-made powder the makers want you to keep buying, but I got myself a clean new one, for about £10.
The internet kindly pointed out that I wouldn’t need to go to all the bother of heating the milk to a certain temperature, and then cooling it before adding a live starter. Instead, I’m using UHT milk, which somebody else has heated, cooled, and put in a handy box.
So, I put UHT milk and a couple of spoonfuls of Yeo Valley organic natural live yoghourt in the inner jar, filled the youghourt maker with boiling water, put it all together, and left it overnight.
The result was a good, set, yoghourt. Not very solid, but tasty. The next step was to put it in cheesecloth, and strain it. There’s three layers of cheesecloth in the picture, as I thought even quite thick yoghourt might run through it, but one turns out to be enough.
Now, the Mezze book says one of the things I can do with labna is make little balls, and keep them in olive oil, in the fridge, ready for use. I had a go, but only made a few, before deciding that the process was too messy, and wasteful. The rest has gone back into the fridge to dry out some more.