Yogurt Cheese - 'Labanee', in Arabic

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“This recipe provides a great non-fat replacement for sour cream or cream cheese. It will easily keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. We usually make a big batch and use it for a lot of different things, topping for baked potatoes along with the other usual goodies; as a base for dips or creamy salad dressings, something to enhance a gravy or sauce, just as you would use sour cream or cream cheese. We always have some in the refrigerator!”
2-4 cups, depending on thickness

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 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)


  1. Although the original recipe doesn’t call for non-fat yogurt, non-fat works fine.
  2. Some recipes almost demand a little fat to smooth their texture on the tongue.
  3. This can be provided by beating a little bit of mayonnaise or olive oil into the non-fat yogurt cheese.
  4. It’s still fat, but at least it’s cholesterol free fat.
  5. 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.
  6. Bring 2 quarts of yogurt to room temperature, and stir thoroughly to smooth and break up all lumps.
  7. Optionally, you can add ½ Tsp salt (original recipe, we usually don’t, because we use this for so many different things).
  8. Line a colander with a couple of dampened paper towels or a clean, dampened, loose weave cotton towel.
  9. Pour yogurt into the colander, cover with another paper towel or plastic wrap.
  10. Place in the sink, or in a bowl which is small enough to hold the colander away from its bottom.
  11. 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.
  12. If you are a real freak, you can refrigerate the yogurt while it drains, but it’s not really necessary.
  13. Yogurt is a living organism; it is cultured in warmth, and it thrives on it (within reason).
  14. Draining will normally reduce the yogurt by about half for sour cream consistency, or by about two-thirds for cream cheese consistency.
  15. We normally go all the way to cream cheese consistency and mix in a little low-fat milk if we need it thinner.

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