Monday, November 10, 2008

Homemade Yogurt Cheese

I got another wild, random idea today, which can be a bit scary for the people around me. I've been bored silly lately, laying on the couch. Today was Day Eleven of being sick. The doctor told me this morning that I have pneumonia and started me on some antibiotics. I can't get off the couch for long periods of time, so my idea could not involve anything strenuous nor time-consuming.

I had been reading some materials regarding home cheese making, and kept seeing references to making yogurt cheese. Apparently it is so easy to make it is almost criminal. The idea is to drain the whey from the solid part of a container of yogurt. I used 5 squares of cheesecloth that were about 3 feet square each (this ended up being much larger than I needed.) I used this many layers of cheesecloth because, ironically, I learned while reading about cheese making that cheesecloth is almost worthless in actually making cheese. The holes are too big for many cheeses. Some normal materials are much better for this kind of work.

I had a 32 oz. container of Dannon Plain Yogurt and poured it into the middle of this square. Then I tied a string tightly just above the top of the yogurt, and left a couple of feet to use for hanging it in my kitchen. Placed below the bag of yogurt was a bowl to catch the liquid. It hung for about 7 hours and I squeezed it slightly by hand before opening the cloth.

The final product looked like cream cheese, maybe slightly more solid. I'm sure that if you vary the draining time you can vary the final consistency. The final yield was probably 30-40% of the original 32 ounces. By itself it tasted fine, but was uneventful. I read a few recipes on the net and decided to add some salt, pepper, garlic and onion. This time I just used powdered onion and garlic but I will probably use fresh items next time. I also added finely chopped chives and parsley, mostly for color.

I can't taste much at all since I have been sick, so I had the boys taste-test it for me. They both liked it; my son Tyler said that it reminded him of French Onion Dip. However this is a bit thicker than standard sour cream dip. It is also a lot healthier than a dip made of sour cream. Next I will have to try it on some good crackers, bagels, or anything else I can think of eating it with, and will vary what spices I add to it.

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