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Monday, August 13, 2012

Making yogurt cheese *plus* Smoked Salmon Spread

by Lili Mounce

Are you making your own yogurt? If you are, then next question, have you made yogurt cheese? If you are making yogurt, but not doing the yogurt cheese, you should give the cheese a shot, at least once. It's extremely easy to do. Takes so little effort. And the resulting product is very much like cream cheese.

I made a batch this weekend, for the recipe below. This is all I had to do for the cheese.

I placed a paper coffee filter into a mesh strainer, and suspended over a small bowl (about 3-cup capacity bowl). I scooped about 2 cups of plain yogurt into the filter. I covered this loosely with a plastic bag and allowed to drain in the fridge for 48 hours. After 48 hours, the yogurt was as thick as soft cream cheese (a spoon can stand up in it). To give it the cream cheese flavor, for every 4 oz. of yogurt cheese, I stirred in 1/4 teaspoon salt. And that's it.  (The whey I kept refrigerated, and will use as part of the liquid in muffins tomorrow morning.) 2 cups of yogurt will yield about 1 cup of yogurt cheese.

If you like bagels and cream cheese, this would surprise you how good and fresh it tastes. If you want to make a cheese cake, this would work (but perhaps allow the yogurt cheese to drain 4 days instead of 2, for thicker product). If you wanted cream cheese frosting for a cake, this would work. If you want to make a pasta dish that regularly calls for cream cheese, this would work there, too. Yogurt cheese can take the place of cream cheese in so many dishes.

And it tastes so fresh, so much better than the sticks of cream cheese at the store. Plus, if sodium is an issue, you can reduce the salt or eliminate it altogether.

It gets better. Here's the dollars and cents breakdown (but you'll notice it's mostly cents!).

I made homemade yogurt, using milk that cost $1 for a half gallon (a typical sale price). That made a little over 1 1/2 quarts of yogurt (the milk evaporates as it's heating to the right temp when making the yogurt). A 2-cup portion of yogurt cost me about 33 cents (I used starter from a previous batch, so no cost there). This yielded 1 cup, or 8 oz., of yogurt cheese.

When I find cream cheese on sale, it's at least 99 cents for 8 oz. My homemade was 1/3 the cost of store bought. If I'd wanted a firmer cheese, I would've allowed the yogurt to remain in the strainer for another 2 days.

I used half of my batch of yogurt cheese to make this Smoked Salmon Yogurt Cheese Spread.

While in Poulsbo, last week, we picked up a small packet of smoked salmon. To really get the most bang for our buck with this, I decided to make a cream cheese spread with it, using yogurt cheese as the base.

I scooped 4 oz. of plain yogurt cheese into a small bowl. Stirred in the 1/4 teaspoon salt needed to give it the cream cheese flavor. I flaked about 3 oz. of the salmon, and stirred it into the cheese along with 1/4 cup of minced chives. A smidge of lemon zest would've been nice to add, but as is, our spread was quite tasty. I allowed the spread to sit in the fridge for an hour, for the flavors to blend. We served it on homemade lavosh (crispy Armenian flat bread). So delicious! I could definitely see this as a special holiday appetizer in our home.


  1. I don't like yogurt that much, but if I keep reading about people making it, I'm feel like I should try it. (My mother did make it when I was growing up. Didn't like it that much then either.)

    1. It's all pointing one way...yogurt making must go on the summer holiday to-do list!

    2. June, so it's a "to each his own" sort of thing. If you and your family wouldn't enjoy yogurt, then making it might be a big huge waste of time. My kids love yogurt. It's a treat for them.

      And now, with making a cream cheese substitute, I can think of many more ways to use homemade yogurt.

      Sarah, if you have an afternoon to spare, it might be a fun activity for you and the kids. It's helpful to have someone else who can give the milk a quick stir from time to time. The last time I made a batch, I was able to do a lot of other things in the kitchen, as my daughters were there to stir the milk while it came to the right temperature. Hope it works as well for you as it did for me!

  2. I make yoghurt in a 1 litre jar - but don't have a large sieve to do the coffee filter thing that you suggest. So I took a coffee filter, placed it over the top of the jar and screwed the ring part of the lid over the filter and then balanced the jar over the top of a large glass. Seems to be working fine! Can't wait to try the "cheese".

    1. Hi Jessica,
      Very clever!

      And I also thought, if some one doesn't have coffee filters that doubled over cheesecloth would also work.

      Thanks for commenting!


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