Yes this is a little bit random, but I’ve got to tell you about this stuff before I start posting recipes that use it – and besides, it’s good. Yogurt Cheese is really, in the simplest terms, yogurt from which the liquid has been removed. It subsequently becomes really thick and spreadable and can stand in for sour cream or even cream cheese. The ‘cheese’ part of the name describes the texture of the finished product more than the process of making it.
The best thing to start with is a good greek or natural yogurt – the real kind with good bacteria, not the stuff with gelatin and other random thickeners. Full fat, lo-fat, fat free, whatever does it for you.
So how does it all work?
Natural or Natural Greek yogurt
Under 100 words
Line a sieve with paper towel, drain yogurt till firm and thick like cream cheese.
- First, line a mesh sifter/sieve with a piece of paper towel – just one piece, but try to use good quality stuff as the cheap one can peel off into the final product – I learned this the hard way…
Yes you could use cheese cloth [or even a tea towel or some muslin], I don’t. The only cheese cloth in our house is in the car washing bucket, not the kitchen. I have no idea what it gets used for [I owned a number of cars for years that only ever got driven through one of those auto washes, the thought of it gives RJ heart palpitations]. But I digress, shocker.
- Dump in the yogurt and use a spoon to spread it around the edges so it is in a relatively even layer. Place the sifter over a bowl – you want it to hover slightly and not touch the base so the liquid can collect.
- Let the yogurt sit for a few hours or overnight. If it is cool I tend to leave it out on the counter as being at room temp speeds up the process a bit. During the summer I put it in the fridge. When you have a chance, dump out the collected liquid [whey] so it does not touch the bottom of the sieve. The whey has a lot of protein and you can drink it or add it to smoothies but it can taste a bit sour. Some people put it on plants [or so the internets tell me]. I can’t be bothered to do anything with it.
- You can press a fresh paper towel on the surface and flip it over occasionally too. It’s not necessary but I do find that it helps to do this once or twice.
- When it is at the desired consistency, pack into a measuring cup to use in recipes or store in the fridge for later. It will keep for as long as yogurt will.
I can hear you saying ‘why can’t I just use sour cream or cream cheese?’. You could – but this is a nice alternative and since we are currently avoiding pretty much all cow’s milk products except yogurt, it comes in handy when the goat’s milk stuff is getting a bit much. The bacteria in yogurt cultures the milk and processes the cow enzymes somehow to make it more easily digestible and better for you [that’s why a lot of people that are lactose intolerant can eat real yogurt…but be warned that my credentials are more suited to drawing pretty pictures than giving medical advise so proceed at your own risk!]. I often thin natural yogurt slightly with water as a replacement to buttermilk for baking too…
Then there is the ‘but what would I use this for’ question – well, really anything that you would use sour cream, cream cheese or even smooth ricotta for. It makes a great spread on sandwiches and toast or stirred through pasta, amongst other things. I would imagine that a real cultured fruit yogurt would work really well for this and create a sweet spread for breakfast or dessert. Don’t worry, we’ll be back here soon!