Discovering Labaneh cheese from Israel

Unveiling the Creaminess of Labaneh: Middle Eastern Cheese

Making a noticeable fragrant presence amidst other dairy products, Labaneh takes its distinguished place with its unique texture and versatile culinary uses. Hailing from the Middle East, particularly Lebanon and Jordan, Labaneh is a soft cheese known for its tangy taste and high nutritional value.

Labaneh, also known as yogurt cheese, is made from pasteurised or raw cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk. The fermentation process of Labaneh differentiates it from other types of cheese, contributing to its characteristic sour taste. The technique involves straining yogurt in a cheesecloth, which absorbs the extra whey and results in a thick, cream cheese-like texture.

The nutritional value of Labaneh makes it a popular choice among health enthusiasts; Labaneh provides protein and probiotics, which can aid digestion and help maintain gut health. The cheese also contains calcium, phosphorus and vitamin B, elements that contribute to bone health. Regular consumption, in moderation, of this creamy delight serves as a good source of protein, particularly for those following vegetarian or plant-based diets. However, like all dairy products, Labaneh is high in saturated fats and should be consumed in moderate quantities.

Labaneh can best be enjoyed spread on khubz Arabic bread, or in traditional Middle Eastern dishes. Its versatility can equally be exhibited in various recipes:

  • Labaneh balls: Small balls of Labaneh are rolled and preserved in olive oil, often combined with aromatic herbs such as thyme, and served as an appetizer or a snack with bread.
  • Combination with za’atar: The tangy taste of Labaneh pairs well with the herby za’atar spice blend. This combination is often served in a flatbread wrap.
  • As a dip: Labaneh’s creamy texture makes it an ideal dip for vegetables or chips. Often it is flavored with chopped fresh herbs, garlic, or lemon juice.

The global cheese world continues to rediscover the gastronomical magic of Labaneh, captivated by its sour-cum-creamy taste and versatile culinary attributes. Middle-Eastern cuisine owes much of its distinctive zest to this white delight, raising its creamy charm to an almost indispensable culinary requirement.

Labaneh cheese from Israel: Test your knowledge

Welcome to our fun and informative quiz on Labaneh cheese from Israel! If you're a foodie at heart or just looking to learn something new about world cuisines, this quiz is for you. Are you ready to discover more about this popular Israeli dairy product? Let's start!

Understanding the Intricacies of Labaneh: Ingredients, Properties and Varieties

Labaneh, esteemed as the Middle-East’s cream cheese, is a veritable pillar of the region’s culinary heritage. It is known as a staple in Levantine cuisine, and is traditionally consumed in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. Made from strained yogurt, Labaneh exhibits an intriguing creaminess balanced with a pleasantly sharp tang. Its texture mirrors that of cream cheese, but its taste profile is distinctly more piquant due to the active bacterial cultures that thrive during fermentation. The cheese is often drizzled with olive oil, giving it a luxurious mouthfeel, and garnished with herbs such as zaatar or mint for an added flavor dimension.

The production process of Labaneh intensifies all the natural attributes of yogurt. The yogurt is typically strained in a cheesecloth overnight, allowing the whey to separate and the thick, creamy solids to remain. This resulting semi-soft cheese is lactose reduced and has a higher protein concentration considering the whey’s removal, manning it an excellent protein source for vegetarians. Its lower cholesterol level, compared to that of other cheeses, also makes Labaneh an appealing choice for health-conscious consumers.

One cannot discuss Labaneh without mentioning its diverse culinary applications and variations. Though typically consumed at breakfast spread on fresh bread, Labaneh’s versatile nature transcends meal boundaries. Here are some notable Labaneh varieties and their uses:

  • Labaneh Balls: These are small balls of Labaneh that have been allowed to air-dry until they achieve a firm texture, then preserved in a jar of olive oil. They’re consumed as is, or used as an intriguing addition to salads and mezze platters.
  • Spiced Labaneh: This variety sees the addition of various spices, herbs, and sometimes olives during the straining process. This imparts a unique flavor profile to the cheese, making it an exciting standalone dish or complementary component to vibrant Middle Eastern recipes.
  • Labaneh Strudel: This dessert variant is a delightful blend of sweet and savory, with the tangy Labaneh encased in layers of sweet, flaky pastry. Typically laced with orange zest or rose water, it reflects the fusion of Western and Middle Eastern dessert concepts.

Ultimately, Labaneh’s smooth, slightly tangy profile, and its health benefits make it a favored choice in Middle Eastern cuisine. Concurrently, the cheese’s versatility and scope for flavor exploration ensures it maintains a constant, dynamic presence on the global culinary stage.

The Delightful Labaneh: A Creamy Middle Eastern Treasure

In the vast world of cheese, there are few treasures as delightful as Labaneh. Hailing from the Middle East, this creamy, tangy cheese has captured the hearts and palates of cheese connoisseurs around the globe. Made from strained yogurt, Labaneh offers a uniquely smooth and velvety texture with a rich, slightly acidic flavor that is both refreshing and satisfying.

Labaneh originated in the Levantine region, encompassing countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. It has a long history dating back centuries, where it was traditionally made by draining fermented yogurt in a cloth, allowing the whey to separate and leaving behind a thick, creamy cheese. Although it has been a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine for generations, Labaneh’s popularity has recently spread to other parts of the world, capturing the attention of cheese lovers everywhere.

What sets Labaneh apart is its versatility in both flavor and usage. Its creamy consistency makes it a perfect spread for bread, while its tangy taste pairs beautifully with herbs, olives, and other traditional Middle Eastern staples. Labaneh can also be used in cooking, adding a delightful creaminess to dishes like salads, dips, and even desserts.

For those with dietary restrictions, Labaneh offers a satisfying solution. Being made from strained yogurt, it is naturally low in fat and calories while still retaining its creamy texture and delicious taste. It is also a great source of protein, calcium, and probiotics, making it a healthy choice for cheese enthusiasts.

Labaneh: A Versatile and Healthy Addition to Your Culinary Repertoire

Whether you’re a cheese enthusiast or simply looking to expand your culinary horizons, Labaneh is a cheese that deserves your attention. Its smooth and tangy flavor profile, along with its versatility in both savory and sweet dishes, make it a true culinary treasure. Whether enjoyed as a spread, added to dips, or incorporated into your favorite recipes, Labaneh is sure to delight your taste buds and leave you craving for more.

Facts and figures

  • Did you know that Labaneh cheese is a staple in most Israeli households and is consumed on a daily basis?
  • Interestingly, although Labaneh cheese is simple to make, the process usually takes a couple of days to allow the cheese to ferment and develop its unique flavor.
  • In recent years, Labaneh cheese has gained international recognition and is now found in supermarket shelves in many countries around the world.
  • While Labaneh cheese is traditionally made from cow's milk, variants made with goat's milk or a mix of both are also common.
  • Labaneh cheese is low in calories and fat, making it a popular choice for health-conscious individuals.
  • Surprisingly, Labaneh cheese has a versatile culinary usage and is not only used as a spread but also in cooking various Israeli dishes.
  • In fact, Labaneh balls preserved in olive oil have a longer shelf life and are a popular food souvenir among tourists visiting Israel.

A Journey into the Sumptuous World of Labaneh Recipes

A simple, yet sophisticated dairy product, Labaneh cheese is a Middle Eastern staple that often stars in a multitude of toothsome recipes. Made from pasteurized or unpasteurized milk, curdled and strained, the resulting cheese boasts a tangy, creamy essence thrilling palates around the globe. Let’s embark on a flavorful expedition, exploring exceptional ways to include this gastronomic gem in your dining sets:

  • Labaneh Dip with Z’atar and Olive Oil

    A culinary treat that enriches the tastebud experiences, the Labaneh dip with Z’atar and olive oil is simplicity personified. To prepare, pile a soft mound of Labaneh cheese in a shallow serving bowl. Gorgeously drizzle over the best extra virgin olive oil you can lay your hands on and generously sprinkle Z’atar, a middle eastern blend of herbs and spices. Assemble some freshly toasted bread or crisp crudites and voilà – a star attraction for your mezze spread is ready!

  • Labaneh Cheesecake – Middle Eastern Twist to an Old Classic

    Traditional cheesecake finds an unexpected, yet delightful partner in Labaneh. For a cheesecake with a twist, combine 500 grams of cream cheese with an equal quantity of Labaneh. Blend this mixture with raw organic honey, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Let it nestle comfortably over a crust made of finely ground graham crackers and melted unsalted butter. A baking session at 350 degrees for the perfect, golden-brown look is all it needs next. Allow the cheesecake to cool before you serve perfect slices crowned with mixed berries or a drizzle of more honey. The unique tanginess of Labaneh straddles beautifully with the classic soothing qualities of a regular cheesecake, offering your palate a delightful surprise.

    • Labaneh, with its creamy consistency and tangy flavor, opens an array of possibilities for the gourmet explorer. Whether you’re serving dips for a casual meal, or offering a dessert at a dinner party, Labaneh cheese adds an unrivaled depth that is sure to leave your guests reaching out for another helping, creating fond food memories that last a lifetime.

      Pairing Wines and Foods with Labaneh: An Exquisite Taste Journey

      Among the diverse universe of cheeses, Labaneh, an exotic soft cheese hailing from the Middle East, is a culinary gem that stands out for its fresh, tart and slightly salty attributes. Originally crafted by fermenting yogurt from goat or sheep milk, Labaneh’s creamy texture and versatile tangy flavor profile make it an excellent candidate for a variety of food and wine pairings that can elevate a gourmet experience to exhilarating heights.

      When it comes to selecting the appropriate wine to accompany Labaneh, it’s essential to consider the wine’s acidity and body to complement and not overpower the cheese’s distinct and delicate layers of taste. White wines, particularly those that possess citrus undertones and a bright acidity, are superb partners for Labaneh. Sauvignon Blanc, for instance, with its high acidity and zesty citrus notes, harmonizes well with Labaneh’s tartness, accentuating its fresh flavor without clashing. A well-chilled Vermentino, with its crispness hinting at green apple and lime, matches beautifully, adding a refreshing touch that cleanses the palate in between bites.

      A dabble in dessert wines is worth researching, too. A delicate Moscato d’Asti from Italy, with its low-alcohol, effervescent sweetness, can offer a delightful contrast to Labaneh’s inherent tanginess. The lightly fizzy nature of the Moscato pairs seamlessly with the creamy texture of this Middle Eastern cheese, making an indulgent pairing that can certainly liven up a dessert course.

      Labaneh’s versatility also shines through cuisine pairings:

      • Mezze platters: It is an integral element of traditional Middle Eastern mezze, where it marries well with olives, hummus, baba ganoush, and warm pita bread. The tartness of the cheese goes well with the earthy flavors of the spreads and contrasts nicely with the saltiness of the olives.
      • Salads: It is a delightful addition to salads, providing a creamy contrast to crunchy greens. Tossed with warm roasted vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and eggplants, Labaneh adds a soothing note to balance out the charred and smoky flavors.
      • Desserts: Surprisingly, it can even make an appearance in Final Course offerings, where the cheese can be sweetened and served with honey, fresh fruits, and nuts for a Middle Eastern-inspired dessert.

      By plunging into the compelling world of cheese and its pairings, food and drink enthusiasts can unlock myriad flavor possibilities and experiences that satiate the tastebuds like never before. Discovering the perfect wine, the ideal dish, and the choicest accompaniments for Labaneh is nothing short of an epicurean adventure, waiting to pleasantly uncork at your discretion.

      Similar Cheeses for Labaneh

      Labaneh is a traditional Middle Eastern cheese made from strained yogurt. It has a creamy texture and tangy flavor, making it a beloved ingredient in various Middle Eastern dishes. If you are a fan of Labaneh, you may be interested in exploring similar cheeses from around the world that offer comparable taste and texture profiles. Here are a few cheeses that share similarities with Labaneh:

      • Hungarian Túró: Túró is a versatile cheese made from curdled milk. It has a creamy and slightly tangy taste, which is reminiscent of Labaneh. Túró is often used in Hungarian cooking, such as in desserts or as a filling for pastries.
      • Indian Paneer: Paneer is a fresh cheese commonly used in Indian cuisine. It is made by curdling milk with an acidic agent like lemon juice or vinegar. Paneer has a soft and crumbly texture, similar to Labaneh, and can be used in both savory and sweet dishes.
      • Greek Feta: Feta is a brined cheese made from sheep’s or goat’s milk. It has a tangy and salty flavor, which is comparable to the taste of Labaneh. Feta is crumbly and creamy in texture, making it a suitable alternative in recipes that call for Labaneh.
      • Italian Ricotta: Ricotta is a fresh cheese made from whey, a byproduct of cheese production. It has a mild and slightly sweet taste, similar to Labaneh. Ricotta has a creamy and grainy texture, and it can be used in various dishes, including desserts and pasta fillings.

      While these cheeses share similarities with Labaneh in terms of taste and texture, it’s important to note that each cheese has its own unique flavor profile. Nevertheless, if you enjoy Labaneh, exploring these similar cheeses can be a delightful culinary experience.

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About the author: Dr. Wolfgang Sender writes on international careers. He is founder of and

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