How to Make Yogurt Cheese at Home
We’ll be talking about an amazing version of normal yogurt, which is yogurt cheese. Few people are aware of the existence of yogurt cheese, which is why we’re going to cover it as a subject here. So, what is this yogurt cheese? It’s basically yogurt that has a cheese-like consistency. It is made by completely straining the whey from the regular or Greek yogurt to bring out a consistency thicker than the traditional yogurt types while preserving its tart flavor. It can be used for spreads, dips, and desserts. In addition to making traditional yogurt, different flavors can be added to yogurt cheese by using actual flavored yogurt types or mixing it with jellies and jams.
In certain regions of the Middle East, yogurt cheese is known as “labneh” where it is formed into balls and stored with aromatic herbs, lemon, and olive oil. Its other distinct forms are mâst chekide in Iran, süzme yogurt in Turkey (which means strained yogurt), and chakka in Central Asia and the Indian sub-continent.
Steps to Make Yogurt Cheese
The preparation of yogurt cheese is quite simple and will hardly take five minutes. However, its draining time might take a long while, any time between eight hours to two days, depending on how fast the whey drains. The following recipe is for simple yogurt cheese; you can also add salt, pepper, garlic, chives, onions, or powdered seasonings, depending on the type of variation you want.
- Step 1: Take a sieve or a colander lined with two layers of fine-mesh cheesecloth or a nylon cloth (some prefer to use a nylon cloth as it is much easier to clean than a colander, and lasts longer). Place a container below to collect the drained liquid.
- Step 2: Scoop out the yogurt from the container, place it in the cheesecloth, and cover it with a plastic wrap to avoid any contact with moisture. Let it refrigerate until the liquid has drained out completely (the draining time varies from type to type; let it drain until the desired consistency is achieved). One cup of yogurt yields around ⅓ cup of yogurt cheese (also depending on the amount of liquid that has been drained off).
- Step 3: Next, transfer the yogurt cheese to a container and refrigerate it. The liquid that is drained from the yogurt could either be discarded or substituted for milk or water in making dessert recipes such as muffins, smoothies, and many more. Yogurt cheese can also be refrigerated for a couple of days to be used as a cooking ingredient.
Storage Life of Yogurt Cheese
Like all dairy products, yogurt cheese also has a short shelf life. Yogurt cheese can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. However, some prefer it to be consumed within a week from the day it is prepared. It’s healthier to consume it as sooner as possible. Since it continues to age at a slower pace in the refrigerator, you can consume it as you like. For longer shelf life, the yogurt cheese can be frozen to last up to four months. It can be used for cooking and in desserts. However, freezing alters its consistency and texture, thereby affecting the quality.
How Is Yogurt Cheese Generally Used?
As you might already know, yogurt cheese can be used as dips, in smoothies, and several other savory meals (we’ll talk more about this in the next chapter). Additionally, yogurt cheese can be used as a salad dressing in place of kefir, yogurt, or sour cream. You can make a variety of dips by drizzling olive oil on its base and using it as a Mediterranean dip for bread. Add salt and pepper to the the olive oil and have it with raw food items that are generally used in an apéritif or on a cheeseboard. You can also serve it with crackers and veggies for tea parties.
It can also be used with pasta for creamy sauces or as a variation of a traditional mac and cheese recipe. Making smoothies with yogurt cheese is quite simple; you can substitute it for milk, water, whole-milk yogurt, or kefir. Some people use it on toasts and in cheesecake recipes. We know that fermented dairy products help in the intake of friendly bacteria along with nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and protein. If you are still confused about using yogurt cheese in your meals, here are some recipes to help kick-start your imagination.
Make Yogurt Cheese Patties
Preparation time: 5-6 minutes
Cooking time: 5-6 minutes
Total time: 10-12 minutes
Ingredients: ½ cup of yogurt cheese, 1 cup of breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and oil for sautéing
⮚ Step 1: Start by forming the yogurt cheese into round patties.
⮚ Step 2: Take some breadcrumbs and mix them with a dash of salt and pepper. Coat the patties with this mixture.
⮚ Step 3: Now sauté these patties in oil until they turn golden-brown.
These patties can be used on top of green salads.
Use Yogurt as an Alternative for Cream Cheese
This alternative has no definite recipe, but here are some ideas that you can use.
Preparation time: 5-7 minutes
Total time: 5-7 minutes
Ingredients: 1 cup of yogurt cheese, sugar or honey (to taste), ½ cup of fruit chunks, dried fruits, or nuts, like walnuts and apricot.
Mix all the preferred ingredients with the yogurt cheese and add the sweetener of your choice. Use it as a dessert base or for parfaits.
Dessert Recipe – Graham Crust Yogurt Cheese Cheesecake
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
For the crust:
1 ½ cups of nilla wafers or graham crackers in crushed form, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, and 3 tablespoons of melted butter.
For the filling:
8 ounces of yogurt cheese (you can use equal parts of yogurt cheese and Greek yogurt to achieve the desired consistency), 3 large eggs, 1 cup of granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons of lemon zest, 2% plain Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch (corn flour).
⮚ Step 1: Mix the brown sugar, lemon zest, and the crumbs in a bowl. When it’s thoroughly mixed, melt the butter and pour it on top of the mixture. Make sure the butter is blended well. There may be some lumps, but there is no need to worry about them.
⮚ Step 2: Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Meanwhile, grease the cheesecake pan on all sides and spread the crust on the pan evenly. Once the oven is heated, bake it for 6-8 minutes.
⮚ Step 3: When the crust is done, take it out of the oven and set it aside.
Meanwhile, whip 8 ounces of yogurt cheese (and the Greek yogurt if added) along with the eggs. Warm all the ingredients to room temperature to avoid clumping the mixture.
⮚ Step 4: Add sugar to the mixture and mix it well. Now, add the lemon zest and the 2% plain Greek yogurt, lemon juice, salt, vanilla extract, and cornstarch.
⮚ Step 5: Pour this mixture on the pre-baked crust and bake it at 325°F for 40 to 50 minutes. Remove it and set aside for 30 minutes.
⮚ Step 6: Cover it with a foil for condensation and refrigerate it for 4 hours. Your graham crust yogurt cheese cheesecake is ready to be served. Use any berry reduction or chocolate sauce as a topping and to enhance the flavor of the cheesecake.
You can substitute yogurt cheese for cream cheese and Neufchâtel, which are both rich in milk fat. Cream cheese is made with milk and cream and contains 33% milkfat, whereas Neufchâtel is solely made from milk and is comparatively lower in fat with 22% fat content. They both have the tartness of the yogurt, are creamy and are spreadable, but relatively unhealthy with high cholesterol levels. Yogurt cheese is delicious and makes for a healthier option.