Saturday, 31 December 2011

Yoghurt & Labneh

One of the very first things i tried in my Thermomix was yoghurt and unfortunately i called it a Thermie Fail. Perhaps i was mistaken as i think thermos fail was probably a more appropriate title. For Christmas i was lucky enough to receive a yoghurt making kit from Cheeselinks

So all set with my machine (which basically is an electric thermos that keeps the temperature at 37 degrees) my starter culture and my milk, i was ready to begin!

It is so simple! All you have to do is mix 1L milk (UHT is easiest because you don't need to sterilise it first) with 100g skim milk powder and 1/10th teaspoon yoghurt culture. Pop it in the machine and 12 hours later you have delicious yoghurt!

After the yoghurt has thickened you need to put it in the fridge however before doing this i mixed in 1 tbsp vanilla extract and 2 tbsp agave to sweeten. You can make your yoghurt any flavour you wish - just add in the flavour/fruit puree/jam after it has thickened.  

Because i like my yoghurt thick, i used the extra milk powder, however you don't have to. I also used skim milk which worked fine. Another thing you can do if you like your yoghurt really thick is to drain some of the whey off but putting it in a clean chux or muslin.

Apart from being a bit chuffed that i'd made my own yoghurt (and hadn't given myself food poisoning in the process) i was also amazed by the cost. This yoghurt cost less than $2/kg which a massive saving when you think that supermarket yoghurt costs upwards of $6/kg.

So after my initial yoghurt success i set out to make some labneh or yoghurt cheese. It is so simple! All you need is 1kg yoghurt, 1tsp salt and a chux. If you don't have homemade yoghurt just buy any type of thick unflavoured greek yoghurt. For my yoghurt i used 1L full cream UHT milk and 100g skim milk powder plus the culture. 

All you have to do is get your chux, a colander and a bowl and immerse in boiling water to sterilise. Then, pop the colander over the bowl and line with the wrung out chux. Mix the salt into your yoghurt and pour into the chux then tie with a rubber band then pop it into the fridge. I left mine for 24 hours however i think 12 hours would be enough as i noticed that the majority of the whey drained in the first 12 hours.  

Once you think you yoghurt can drain no more, remove it from the chux. With any luck it should look like this.....

 Now the fun bit starts - rolling labneh balls! OK well it wasn't as easy as i expected as the yoghurt kept sticking to the spoons. I used 2 teaspoons and sort of quenelled the labneh. Luckily once you roll them in whatever coating you choose they end up as perfect balls! So i wouldn't worry too much about getting them pretty initially.
Dodgy uncoated labneh

I used za'atar to coat the balls. Za'atar is a middle eastern spice mix made from sesame seeds, sumac, thyme and salt. You can use any spice mix or fresh herbs to coat the balls. It really is up to you. Otherwise you can leave them uncoated and store them in an oil-filled jar.

They magically became round!

 Labneh can be eaten as part of a mezze, spread on bread or on biscuits. It can also be added into salads or eaten straight! Labneh doesn't always have to be savoury either. It tastes similar to cream cheese so can be used in sweet dishes (perhaps omit the salt!) Either way i'm really pleased how these turned out. Although it takes a bit of time to let it drain etc, it really is very easy and cheap to do!

I love my new toy and i'm sure it will be used very frequently from now on. I'm hoping to experiment with some dairy-free milk yoghurts in the future and see what happens!

Sarah xx