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Thick, creamy, a lil' tangy... yogurt cheese is incredibly versatile.  You can use it simply as a thickened 'Greek' yogurt, as labneh, as a spread for crackers & bagels, with fresh fruit, as a substitute for cream cheese, a base for sour cream dips, and even as whipped cream, cheese cake, & cake frosting (or so I hear).  Plus, it's probiotic!

Yogurt cheese is, undeniably, one of life's finer pleasures.  Personally, I like it with garlic, cracked black pepper, and sea salt.  I use this spiced yogurt cheese (yog-eese? chees-urt?) as a spread on crackers - delicious!

Best of all, yogurt cheese is extremely easy to make.  Let's give it a shot, shall we?

You will need:
~ Yogurt (homemade yogurt is ideal, but store-bought works just as well)
~ Strainer (colander+cheesecloth/fine mesh sieve/finely-woven dishtowel, etc.)
~ Bowl or Cup (or anything that can collect the whey, or 'yogurt water')

+ extra goodies, if desired - ideas for flavor variations are listed below
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First, set up your straining station.  I happen to have a special yogurt cheese funnel (a gift from Morgan's mother), so my set-up is simple.  Just don't buy special equipment if you don't already have it!  Use what you have

You can strain yogurt with:
~ a colander double-lined with cheesecloth (or any finely-woven cloth)
~ a fine mesh sieve
~ a suspended cheesecloth (or other fine material) pouch, as pictured
~ another innovative method I haven't thought of yet

Once you've chosen a strainer, set up your drip-catcher.  Mine is currently a water glass, and is most often a mason jar.  Depending on your strainer, you may want to use a deep bowl or pot.  Just make sure it's big enough to hold about 2/3 the volume of yogurt, and that it has enough clearance below the strainer that your yogurt cheese won't end up stewing in its own whey.

Next, add your yogurt to the strainer!  Since I make my own yogurt, I've got a steady supply.  You can use any kind, non-dairy, low-fat, whatever - just use yogurt you like! 

Here's my set-up - you might notice there's not much clearance between the funnel and the bottom of a glass.  I ended up having to switch the glass out for a bigger jar, since the whey rose too high.
Put your set-up somewhere out of the way.  Some people like to keep it in the refrigerator, but I don't think that's necessary. If you have small animals (especially cats), put it out of their reach - possibly in a cupboard, or an unused oven overnight. 

Now, you wait.  Depending on how thick you want it, let the yogurt cheese stand for 12-24 hours, or until the whey stops draining. 

I'm usually a 12-hours-or-less kinda gal, because I've got a touch of the impatience.  Luckily, I got sleepy and had to let this stand overnight. 

Here's how mine turned out, after 20 hours (notice how the yogurt compressed by about 50%):
Now you've made basic yogurt cheese, strained yogurt, Greek yogurt, or labneh.**  Congratulations!  You can stop here if you like, but that's just not as much fun.

** You've also made sweet whey - chock full of protein, vitamins (B12 & Riboflavin), minerals (Potassium & Phosphate), and enzymes.  Don't throw it out!  You can use it in baking, for lacto-fermentation, in stews... check out 16 Ways to Use Your Whey for even more ideas.

Add-in inspiration:
~ salt + cracked black pepper + minced garlic
~ chopped kalamata olives + sundried tomatoes
~ fresh basil + rosemary
~ salt + lemon juice
~ cracked black pepper + chives
~ honey + strawberries
~ whatever your heart desires!

I chose the first variation for this batch, and mixed in the minced garlic (raw, for its rad medicinal effects!), salt & pepper.  So very, very tasty. 
Once you've added any extras, store the yogurt cheese in a sealed container in the fridge.  It will keep for about 2 weeks, but trust me - it won't last that long! 

What are your favorite flavors to add in?  Do you have any great recipes that use yogurt cheese?

You might like:
- Make Yogurt!
- Crunchy Almond Granola
- Chocolate Almond Milk: How-To
- Kombucha: Brew Your Own 'Booch

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04/15/2012 5:05pm

This looks good. Isn't this greek yogurt? Also, I'm not sure I would leave out pasteurized milk that long...raw milk is fine to leave out for 24-48 hours, but pasteurized milk/yogurt can make you ill if left out for as long as you suggest.

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04/15/2012 5:19pm

Yes indeed - Greek yogurt! And you're right - I haven't had any ill effects (yet) from leaving the yogurt unrefrigerated for 12-24 hours, but refrigeration is definitely safer for the less fool-hardy folks!

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04/16/2012 2:09pm

Mmmm, yummy! I plan on trying this in the next week or two with my first gallon of raw milk! I pinned it for later :)

Found you through the Barn Hop!

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04/17/2012 8:46pm

I haven't made homemade yogurt for several years, but this post has inspired me to dig out my yogurt maker (do I still have it?!) and give it a whirl again. I've seen the idea of yogurt cheese, but didn't realize this was the same thing as Greek yogurt! Also pinning! :)

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Anna @ Patchwork Radicals
04/18/2012 6:44am

I'm glad you're inspired! If you don't still have your yogurt-maker, check out my post 'Make Yogurt!' for an way to make yogurt in a cooler.

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04/18/2012 10:07pm

LOVE it! Thanks for sharing on Wildcrafting Wednesday. :)

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04/19/2012 6:26am

I have to make this, it just looks so good! Thanks for sharing this at Natural Mother's Seasonal Celebration Sunday! x

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04/17/2013 12:45pm

yummy! I plan on trying this in the next week or two with my first gallon of raw milk!

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