Kent never knows what he’ll find going on around here. I made a double batch of yogurt cheese last week so I could try some of the recipes in the most recent Wise Traditions Journal. I usually make it when we end up with extra raw milk for whatever reason. For the bigger batch I needed my cheese to hang up higher than normal to drain, and this is what I came up with…hanging it from the dining room light. Classy, don’t you think?
(Skip right to the ideas below if you're in a hurry…)
In this particular article, Jen Allbritton shared some great recipe ideas for getting more probiotics into our diets with raw yogurt cheese. As she explained, this cheese comes out creamy or crumbly, depending on how long it drains.
Read a few short excerpts from the article, “Growing Wise Kids – Enjoying Little Miss Muffet’s Curds and Whey”:
“Homemade curd cheese is a well-spring of nourishment. It is packed with protein, rich in healing fats (the best coming from properly raised grass-fed animals) and, most important, is an excellent digestive aid. Fresh, unripened cheese made from raw cultured dairy products is bursting with probiotic (pro-life) activity.
A hallmark practice among traditional cultures is to consume some sort of naturally preserved, lacto-fermented vegetable, fruit, beverage, meat and/or condiment at every meal. Tack homemade curd cheese onto your list of powerfully healing foods. And the best thing is, this cheese is so versatile, your family will be happy to include it in any meal!
Homemade, fresh curd cheese is the perfect complement or even replacement for sour cream in soups or dips and commercial cream cheese in spreads or desserts. It even does a fine job replacing mayonnaise on occasion. Best of all, curd cheese will take on any flavor, whether it be savory, salty, or sweet, so the sky is the limit when it comes to the possibilities with this ingredient. Heating homemade curd cheese will destroy the good bacteria, so I opt to keep mine raw as much as possible; however, there are times when it is the ideal choice for a certain soup or casserole–or you just have an excess supply.”
Which yogurt to use!
Important: use homemade yogurt to make this yogurt cheese, and if it's made with raw milk you'll have a probiotic cheese as mentioned above. OR you can buy some yogurt at the store, but be sure to get organic whole milk yogurt from grass-fed cows if possible!
How to make raw yogurt cheese and whey:
Also called “curd cheese” or “clabber cheese”, and very similar to cream cheese…
- I start by making homemade yogurt with my extra raw milk–my farmer friend Jenny from Six S Dairy showed me the easiest way: take a half-gallon of raw milk, stir 1/8 teaspoon of this culture into it, let set on the counter right in the milk jar for 24 hours. After 24 hours, you'll see that it's ready when it's all globby, because the curds & whey separate.
- Next place a colander over a bowl, set a thin dishtowel/flour sack towel like this kind into the colander, pour in the yogurt.
- Tie the corners together of the towel, or use hair ties like Jenny shows in the video below (I'm trying that next time, it looks easier!), and hang it from a cabinet knob. Or hang from a chandelier as pictured, it's super classy for when company pops in. 🙂 You could also use a really deep bowl, so the bottom of the towel isn't touching the whey.
- Let the whey drip out for another 24 hours.
- Next I usually try to squeeze a few more drops of the whey out, then scrape the cheese into a bowl and use it right away, or if you'll be storing it for a bit (up to 2 weeks and probably longer is fine), stir in 1 teaspoon of sea salt to help preserve it.
- Something else I just learned for a way to draw more of the liquid out and make it more like a thicker cream cheese from the store: place another clean thin towel into a bowl, place the cheese in there and wrap the towel over and around the cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and set back in the fridge for a week or so. This draws more moisture out without letting it get sour as it would if you kept it hanging out longer at room temperature.
- Here are Jenny's exact instructions and a video too.
- Somewhere I've also seen another idea: after you've gotten the cheese dried out well, roll into 1-inch balls, place in a jar and cover with olive oil–enjoy spread on sourdough. Apparently this keeps forever in the fridge (!!) and is a middle-eastern recipe called Lebneh. I'm trying it soon, but also adding herbs and spices so it tastes like those yummy marinated soft mozzarella balls from the store–but those have nasty canola oil and other junk in them. (Note to self: use quart jars with part olive oil and part avocado oil so the flavor isn't as strong, and then save the oil to reuse as we use the cheese.)
See below for all the recipe options!
Note that I use this yogurt cheese in recipes mostly, although some use it the same way they use store-bought cream cheese, on a bagel or cracker or piece of sourdough or whatever.
What you have left in the bowl is whey
This one gallon jar of whey is from when I made 3 batches of yogurt cheese (from 3 half gallon jars of milk):
Some drink it plain because it is so good for us, but I use it in my fermented veggies, in homemade bread, or in superfood smoothies. Here are more ways to use whey! Jenny uses it in place of the water, milk or buttermilk in recipes and they turn out great.
Here are the yogurt cheese recipes I’ve tried so far:
- Probiotic Fudgesicles – They’re really good…at least I thought so. (Read more at that link about my picky kids.)
- Yogurt cheese dip – I think it tastes like the yummy garlic Boursin cheese we often use in recipes. Play around with different herbs and spices to make various dips for crackers or chips. Or something similar: this veggie cream cheese dip. One another similar one showing all the variations you could try: Cream cheese dip with many variation options.
- Add a layer of this cheese to your traditional lasagna or Mexican lasagna or Stuffed Shells (but these are cooked/baked recipes, so you're not retaining all of the goodies in the cheese, but it's still good for you though!)
- Taco dip
- I haven't tried it in cheesecake yet but plan to!
- Try this simple probiotic cream cheese frosting (recipe from a reader and guest-poster, Barb):
What else do you do with your yogurt cheese?
More you might like:
- Do you need a good probiotic supplement for when you need the “big guns”?
- Here's how to make cottage cheese from one of my farmer friends.
- Why raw milk is the best milk for us: Raw Milk Benefits and Information: Q & A with Mark McAfee
- By the way, the picture above is when I made a different kind of cheese, but I wanted you see how I tie it up.