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Karen Danielson explains how to make yogurt cheese, which she uses in her Heart Healthy Alfredo Sauce, among other things.  This dish is astoundingly high in needed calcium and adds a punch flavor-wise to many dishes.  
   See video on making yogurt cheese.
 

Yogurt Cheese

1  32-oz. carton nonfat, plain yogurt, such as Colombo brand  (Note #1)
1 large yogurt strainer (Note #2)

Empty contents of yogurt container into yogurt strainer. Set yogurt strainer in large bowl or pan and allow to drain on countertop for at least 5 or 6 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator. Discard whey or save for another use. Yield: 2 cups yogurt cheese.

This yogurt cheese makes a great non-fat "cream cheese" spread or topping.  Add some chives, chopped green onions, grated carrots, dried dill and some garlic salt and you have a great vegetable "cream cheese" spread for bagels.  See recipe for Herb and Onion Veggie Dip.

(See notes from Bess)


Note #1:  If you can't find Colombo brand yogurt, you can use any brand of yogurt you want as long as it contains no pectin or food starch. That is what the "directions" say in all the research I've done on making yogurt cheese, but I must confess that I've used Dannon Nonfat Plain yogurt (which does contain pectin) and it worked just fine for me. The key is to allow it to drain long enough.  You're looking for an end product that has the consistency of cream cheese.  

Note #2Yogurt strainers can be found in most specialty food stores and some larger department stores. Don't go on a major safari to buy one. You can make your own quite simply by using a large wire tea strainer and some coffee filters. Line the tea strainer with coffee filters, making sure they overlap. Arrange them so they cover most of the surface (you may have to cut them here and there). Suspend this over a large bowl or pan and allow to drain on the countertop for about 5-6 hours or, better yet, overnight in the refrigerator. The whey will drain from the yogurt and leave you with a nice creamy end product. Remember, the longer you drain it, the more dense your end product will be. You can discard the whey or save it and put it in bean soup or whatever. It's a little too tart for my taste buds so I throw it away.


Bess's notes:  Karen lives at a cooler, dryer area at higher altitude.  In the high heat and humidity (not to mention bugs) in Miami, I would balk at leaving the developing cheese on the counter, since I don't always air condition my kitchen.  My method is to stir the yogurt vigorously to break the fine curd.  I then line a large size plastic strainer with a large coffee filter, the kind of strainer with little hooks on one edge to balance over a bowl.  In an emergency I have lined it with a double layer of good quality paper towel.  (I prefer not to use a metal strainer around acid, and yogurt contains lactic acid, unless of course you are fortunate or affluent enough to have a stainless steel strainer.  Personal prejudice here, quite possible unfounded.)  Placing the lined strainer over the open yogurt container, I turn them upside down, then set the strainer, yogurt, container and all, over a bowl and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.  I give the whey to the dogs.  If you aren't operating in too hot and humid a climate, Karen's method is certainly faster.   I often use Dannon's too, although usually I use a local supermarket's (Publix) house brand, as Colombo isn't sold here.   Natural homemade yogurt works really great.

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