March 17, 2010
I caught Mark Bittman’s column today which reminded me of the batch of yogurt cheese I made last week. If you’ve never tried this before, and like Greek yogurt, give it a shot. We usually turn it into dips made with olive oil and the Middle Eastern spice blend za’atar (recipe included) or tahini, lemon juice and garlic. You can control the thickness and consistency depending on how long you allow the yogurt to drain. I usually drain my yogurt for 24 hours, yielding a cream cheese consistency. Draining for 8-12 hours would yield a consistency more similar to Greek yogurt. Omit the table salt if you enjoy Greek yogurt with sweet pairings, such as fruit and granola or drizzled with honey or jam. No special tools required, provided you own a colander, bowl and cheesecloth (or flour sack kitchen towel). It’s the easiest homemade cheese you will ever make.
- 1 quart good quality plain yogurt (I use reduced fat or lowfat. I don’t recommend using nonfat here.)
- 1/2 tsp table salt
- Za’atar* or seasonings of choice
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
In a medium bowl combine yogurt and table salt.
Line a colander with 2 15-inch squares of fine mesh cheesecloth. Place colander inside a large bowl to collect whey. Pour yogurt and salt mixture into cheesecloth-lined colander. Gather up sides and tie together with twine, creating a sealed, tight package. Cover colander/bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Allow yogurt to drain in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. The longer you allow it to drain, the thicker your yogurt cheese will be. I drain mine for 24 hours and am left with about 1 1/2 cups.
Serve as is, or stir in your seasonings of choice. I add about 2-3 T za’atar to 1 1/2 cups labneh and serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of kosher salt, additional za’atar and warm pita. Or stir in a few tablespoons of tahini, a minced garlic clove, freshly squeezed lemon juice and kosher salt.
*You can find za’atar at Middle Eastern specialty grocers or make your own.