A collection of my favourite recipes & remedies from Mexico and around the world.

Strained Yoghurt Cheese – no special equipment needed

Ok, so now we know how to make yoghurt at home the next step is to make cheese from it.. yep make your own cheese from your own yoghurt! Sounds like something only people on farms do, but it is so easy anyone can do it! The result is a creamy-smooth, soft and spreadable cheese as good as any shop bought soft cheese, if not better cos you made it yourself! It tastes really good plain or you can jazz it up with your favourite herbs and spices like garlic, basil, black pepper etc.

In the Middle East this yoghurt cheese is called Labane or Labneh and is sometimes formed into balls and marinated in olive oil and herbs. I still have not tried that yet but it is on my list, I need to get hold of some decent sized glass jars as apart from these cheese balls there are so many things I want to pickle!! Anyway, that’s another post, so let’s get to the method..

How to make Soft Labane Cheese at home.

You will need a cloth of some sort to do this, ideally it would be cheesecloth which is a thin, gauzy type of material that allows liquid to drain out of the yoghurt. I personally don’t use cheesecloth as a) I have no idea where to buy it, b) I think it’s expensive and c) it’s not really necessary. There are a few good substitutes you will find you already have in the house. A piece of cotton, an old bed sheet perhaps, paper coffee filters are also good as is medical gauze, altho you will need to double or triple layer it as the spaces in the weave are a bit bigger than cheesecloth would be. You can even use a pair of tights (pantyhose) or stockings. Just make sure whatever you use is clean, and does not have any smell, perfume or colour that can come off into the yoghurt cheese.

Last time I made this I used half a litre of yoghurt and I got a 130g ball of soft cheese.

I almost forgot to mention,. you can use any plain yoghurt for this recipe, it doesn’t have to be home made, just as long as it is plain or natural yoghurt, no sugar or flavour.

1. First of all mix a little salt into the yoghurt and if you are going to add any herbs, spices or other flavourings now is the moment.

2. Next put the cloth over a sieve over a bowl or saucepan to catch the liquid that comes out, pour the yoghurt directly into the centre. Bring all the edges together and secure them tightly with a rubber band.

3. Now just wait.. leave it at least 6 hours, check it and see if you need to leave it a bit longer or not and hey presto.. you have cheese! You can leave it in the fridge during the day then take it out overnight to get the excess moisture out if it still seems too liquidy, altho I have never needed to do it, I just leave it in the fridge.

Stored in the fridge like any other cheese, it will last a while, I wouldn’t like to say exactly how long as I imagine it depends on how old the yoghurt was when you made it etc, my golden rule is: if it smells funny don’t eat it!

Add this to a cheese board at a dinner party or event, eat on crackers or toast, in sandwhiches or use in any recipe that calls for cream cheese.. mmm like stuffed chicken breasts, naughty bacon and cream-cheese sandwiches, jacket potato topping, cheesecake.. and the list goes on!

The last time I did it I just left it in the fridge around 6 hours and it was fine. I added black pepper to it cos I always used to love Black Pepper Boursin, a French cream cheese I used to buy in England.. yummy. I always preferred the black pepper one over the garlic and herb.. o my god.. I just looked up the website to check the spelling of the name and they have a load of recipes.. so I am going to have a wee look for some inspiration for what to do with this batch of cheese once it is ready. I was thinking it would be destined for a cheesecake as berries are cheap and in abundance at the moment in the market in Santiago, however we shall see what deliciousness I find on the Boursin website!! 😛

By the way this yoghurt cheese is not really cheese, its in between yoghurt and cheese,  it is naturally low in fat and calories and is a healthier alternative to regular cream cheese, this is a good link to info on yoghurt cheese, although they have given it a silly name of YoChee! 😛

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