Thursday, June 16, 2011

{ Going Old School - Homemade Yogurt Cheese }

Slowly but surely, I'm checking items to make off of my { Going Old School - Laura Ingalls Style } post.

My first adventure was making yogurt cheese. I first tasted yogurt cheese at my girlfriend Sarah's house. She sweetens hers with xylitol and uses it more like a dessert spread; this particular evening she served it on banana bread.  She then told me that in it's original unsweetened state, yogurt cheese can be used as a cream cheese substitute. Seeing how when you don't buy everything organic, as I don't, you should at least buy the things that your kids eat the most organic I figured that this could be a low cost solution for an organic cream cheese alternative; especially since I wasn't forking out the dough for organic cream cheese any ways, just plain old conventional - full of hormones and antibiotics I'm sure. So of course I had to get the "recipe" from Sarah to make. She referred me to the Kitchen Stewardship site and I got under way.

Making yogurt cheese was amazingly easy! I used the Kitchen Stewardship post, "What is Whey? Where Can I Get It? (How to Make Yogurt Cheese)". Follow my pictures to see how easy it was:

Let's start here with the tools of the trade: a strainer, a flour sack cloth or cheese cloth and a bowl or measuring cup to catch up to 3 cups of whey.

Place your colander on top of the container that will catch the whey.

Next line the strainer with your flour sack towel or cheese cloth.

Add one quart of yogurt (homemade or store bought) and let sit for one hour. The whey starts dripping immediately.

After an hour, you will need to hang your cloth with the yogurt in it over the container catching the whey to let gravity do it's work. I wrapped mine around my cabinets and used a hair rubber band to hold it in place. Once you've got your contraption in place, wait another four hours.

After you've waited your 5 hours total, here is what you will find in your cloth. Put it in a container and refrigerate! It's that easy. Who'da thunk it?

I personally thought that it was a little tart, but I put it on a bagel and served it to Phoebe without telling her it wasn't cream cheese and my choosiest eater ate it right up!

Is it mean that I still make my three year old wear a bib?

Any hoo! Here are the details about the longevity of your yogurt cheese: your cheese should last 1-4 weeks and the author says that if it goes bad, you'll know. If you want to use your whey, click on the original Kitchen Stewardship post here for some ideas, it should last up to 6 months refrigerated.

So back to the idea of sweetened yogurt cheese. I haven't done this yet since Phoebe seems willing to eat it unsweetened, but here is the gist of how you sweeten it. Sara uses xylitol, it's an all natural sugar replacement with many benefits. You can pick it up at the co-op in bulk or in small and expensive packages at big box stores. You want it powdered, so you'll grind up 2 tbsps of xylitol in your coffee/herb grinder to powder it (Sarah uses her vitamix, so if you have one of those you can use that). Once it's powdered, just mix it into the yogurt cheese to taste. If you don't have xylitol and you don't want to go out and buy some, you can use regular old powdered sugar too; it should have the same taste.

Mmmm... now I want some sweetened yogurt cheese, but that means I'll have to make some banana bread to eat it on... oh what a vicious cycle!

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