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    Yogurt Cheese Balls (Labneh)

    Yogurt cheese balls marinated in spices, herbs and olive oil; from now on this is one of my favorite treats! It is delicious, easy and you can create any combination of spices and herbs you like. I have expressed my weakness for Greek yogurt many times already. And I will continue to do so, because yogurt is after all a magic material, with infinite possibilities, which are I constantly discover.

    Yogurt Cheese Balls (Labneh) – Μπαλίτσες από Τυρί Γιαουρτιού

    Remember the 5 healthy dips I proposed to you approximately a year ago, based on yoghurt; you love them, so do I! Back then, I let the yogurt drain in the refrigerator overnight to get a yoghurt more viscous than usual. So I thought that if I let the yogurt drain more time, it will become even more viscous. And that’s how it happened. So I put 1.5 kg of yogurt to drain for 3 days. Meanwhile I did a little research on the internet and found that this practice is very common in the Middle East and India and it is said labne or labneh. I found three very interesting articles in as many blogs here, here and here. So while I have thought I make a plain cheese log to serve according to the mood of the moment, I made the yogurt cheese balls as well, which I loved!

    Yogurt Cheese Balls (Labneh) – Μπαλίτσες από Τυρί Γιαουρτιού

    Yogurt Cheese Balls (Labneh) – Μπαλίτσες από Τυρί Γιαουρτιού

    Do not think that the cheese you will get is like feta or ricotta. Imagine it like a thick cream cheese, but with less fat, depending on the yogurt you choose. I used full fat yoghurt, which has 8% fat, but it can easily be done with the 2%, which I had used in the healthy dips’ recipes. And so you have a cheese with less fat than the store bought and with fewer calories!

    Yogurt is an excellent source of animal proteins of high biological value, which is more digestible than milk, which is attributable to changes caused mainly by fermentation. The bacteria of yogurt have been shown to contribute to good bowel function and protect against various pathogenic bacteria which can cause enteritis. It is particularly beneficial for persons who take antibiotics. Yoghurt is better tolerated by people who are allergic to milk or those who do not tolerate lactose. Its consumption reduces blood cholesterol.

    Yogurt Cheese Balls (Labneh) – Μπαλίτσες από Τυρί Γιαουρτιού

    All you need is a strainer, a bowl and some pieces of gauze or tulle. Attach the strainer over the bowl, then lay the gauze and pour into the amount of yogurt you want. Tighten the gauze and tie it with a ribbon and let the yogurt sit in the refrigerator for at least 3 days. The more you let it drain the more it thickens. Once drained, discard the liquid from the bowl and continue to prepare your recipe.

    Yogurt Cheese Balls (Labneh) – Μπαλίτσες από Τυρί Γιαουρτιού

    What I found during testing is that because the amount of 1,5 kilo is a lot, the yogurt drained was fine but the center still had moisture. So it will be good to put a weight on it to press, or to divide it into smaller quantities.

    Yogurt Cheese Balls (Labneh) – Μπαλίτσες από Τυρί Γιαουρτιού

    Also, as you can see in the instructions, I put salt only in the cheese log to check the difference. On yogurt cheese balls with sumac and paprika, I only put salt in the mixture of spices and not in the yogurt, while in the fresh herbs cheese balls I did not put at all. Still they came out very tasty, I did not miss the salt at all.

    Yogurt Cheese Balls (Labneh) – Μπαλίτσες από Τυρί Γιαουρτιού

    Yogurt Cheese Balls (Labneh) – Μπαλίτσες από Τυρί Γιαουρτιού

    As I wrote above, I used 1.5 kg (53 oz.) of yoghurt, which finally came to 1300 gr. (46 oz.) of yogurt cheese. I used 500 gr. to make the cheese log and the rest 800 gr. I made yogurt cheese balls marinated in olive oil; half of it with spices and the rest with fresh herbs. The cheese log can be served according to your mood. With a bit of good quality olive oil and fresh vegetables and herbs it will be perfect. I would love to try it with hot pepper jam; It will be perfect. I tried it in another recipe that I will show you in a few days and I really liked it. Wrapped with paper, in the refrigerator, it will stand for about two weeks, while yogurt cheese balls last much more since they are dipped in olive oil. It is understood that for the yogurt cheese balls you can combine the herbs and spices you like. Beyond what I used, you should think of:

    thyme

    tarragon

    fennel seeds

    basil

    oregano

    caraway seeds

    garlic

    crushed cardamom

    coriander

    various peppers

    marjoram

    dill

    Yogurt Cheese Balls (Labneh) – Μπαλίτσες από Τυρί Γιαουρτιού

    Preparation time:    3 days of waiting and 45 minutes process

    Ingredients:

    for the plain yogurt cheese log:

    • 500 g. (17.6 oz) yogurt cheese
    • 1/3 teaspoon salt
    • ½ tablespoons olive oil

    for the yogurt cheese balls (labne) with spices (9-10 cheese balls):

    • a 750ml jar
    • 400 g. (14 oz.) yogurt cheese
    • 1 tablespoon sumac
    • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon chile flakes
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon thyme, chopped (leaves only)
    • salt
    • olive oil, so as to cover yogurt cheese balls

    for yogurt cheese balls (labne) with fresh herbs (9-10 cheese balls):

    • a 750ml jar
    • 400 g. (14 oz.) yogurt cheese
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
    • 4-5 leaves of fresh mint, finely chopped
    • 6-7 leaves finely chopped chives
    • olive oil, so as to cover yogurt cheese balls

    Yogurt Cheese Balls (Labneh) – Μπαλίτσες από Τυρί Γιαουρτιού

    Instructions:

    for the plain yogurt cheese log:

    Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Place cheese on a piece of greaseproof paper. Bring one end of the paper over the cheese and with your hands form a log. Roll the log on the kitchen counter to give it shape. Wrap both ends of paper like candy and store in refrigerator.

    for the yogurt cheese balls (labne) with spices:

    Roll the yogurt cheese on walnut size balls and refrigerate to dry out a little further (I left them about 45 minutes). In a jar which closes tightly mix all ingredients and a part of olive oil. Pour a part of the mixture in the jar in which you will keep the cheese balls, add half of the balls, sprinkle them with a portion of the mixture, add the rest and pour the remaining mixture. If necessary add more oil to completely cover the cheese balls. Shake gently. Leave to marinate for at least 24 hours before serving. Keep refrigerated.

    for the yogurt cheese balls (labne) with fresh herbs:

    Roll the yogurt cheese on walnut sized balls. Mix the chopped herbs in a bowl. Throw the balls in the bowl with the herbs and make sure to cover completely (it is advisable to wear gloves). Put in the fridge to dry out a little further (I left about 45 minutes) and then put them into the jar where you will store them. Carefully add more olive oil to cover completely the cheese balls. Leave to marinate for at least 24 hours before serving. Keep refrigerated.

     

    PS. The post might be long, but the process for the yogurt cheese balls is very easy! I am a little babbler, you see … 🙂

    Yogurt Cheese Balls (Labneh) – Μπαλίτσες από Τυρί Γιαουρτιού

    Yogurt Cheese Balls (Labneh) – Μπαλίτσες από Τυρί Γιαουρτιού

    Yogurt Cheese Balls (Labneh) – Μπαλίτσες από Τυρί Γιαουρτιού

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