Friday, May 7, 2010

Making Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese

While I’m personally not a yogurt eating person, I was asked about making yogurt cheese. (Or, more correctly, my wife was asked if yogurt could be used to make cheese.

My answer (gathered from Wikipedia): You can make a yogurt cheese which is considered a strained yogurt. Put yogurt into a coffee filter in a strainer over a bowl and let sit in the refrigerator until it is about the consistency of cream cheese. In Arab countries this is called Labneh. It is sometimes thickened further and formed into balls then put in to a jar of olive oil for a few weeks. Shankleesh is made from Labneh that has been cured and dried. Labneh is salted, dried and rolled into balls. Shankleesh is often rolled in Olive Oil and thyme, or coated with other spices.

Yogurt, itself is easy to make and much less expensive to make than store bought. It also has no preservatives or additives other than those you put in. Turning what you make into cheese is even easier.

Making Yogurt

What you will need:

1 quart of milk, whole or skim, 1% or 2% your choice
2 Tbs of your favorite non flavored store bought yogurt
1 thermometer (capable of reading at least from 100F-185F)
A double boiler
1 quart sterilized jar with lid
(optional one heating pad and heavy towel)

Bring your store bought yogurt to room temperature as you set up double boiler so the water just touches the bottom of the top pan. Put in the milk and heat to 185F stirring to keep from scalding the bottom. Remove the milk from the heat and cool to 110F. To speed this process put pan into sink with tepid water. Stir occasionally. (Do not let it go below 90F.) Once the milk is at 110F, stir in the two Tbs. of yogurt. Then place in your sterilized jar and put lid on loosely.
You will now need to let this sit for seven hours at 100F – 110F. If you don’t have an electric yogurt maker, (yeah right) you can warm your oven to 100F and put your future yogurt in there. Of course, having your oven on for 7 hours might be a bit hard on the electric bill. One alternative is to set your jar on a heating pad set on med. And cover it with a heavy towel. After seven hours, take it out and stir vigorously for a couple minutes, put the lid back on and put in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning stir it up again and it is ready to be enjoyed with your favorite topping.

Shelf life is up to 3 weeks
Yield is 1 to 1, one quart of milk yields one quart of yogurt

Yogurt Cheese

To turn your yogurt into cheese, simply place a coffee filter in a colander or strainer and put over a catch bowl and put in your yogurt. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Leave it over night and check it for consistency. If it is thick enough, enjoy it. If not, put it back and let it drain longer until it is what you want. Most people like it about the consistency of cream cheese.
At the right is what is left of 1 1/2 cups of goat milk yogurt after being drained for 24 hours. The containers are 4oz size. The one on the left is unaltered and is tangy and goaty. The one on the right I mixed a little honey in to it and made a nice sweet treat.


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