The first time I tasted and heard of yogurt cheese was from the Crain family of Oklahoma. It was 2006, the year the family won the “Most Likely to Improve an Individual Farm’s Net Income Award” from the American Farm Bureau Federation. The Crains provided samples of their products.
Barbara Crain found the recipe in a cookbook, adapted it to her family’s taste and then developed it into a commercial business. The irony was this “cheese” is similar to Greek yogurts, which are all the craze today.
With the aid of Google and a segment featuring Martha Stewart making yogurt cheese, I found this recipe. My tip for getting a great-tasting yogurt is to select a brand whose taste you like. Each company uses its own cultures, which is why each brand has a slightly different taste.
Making yogurt and yogurt cheese are not hard to do. Unfortunately, with two active boys and a small house, I don’t have many “safe” places to make my own yogurt.
To learn more about the Crains' farm, check out their website at http://www.wagoncreekcreamery.com/History.html.
5 cups whole, low-fat or skim milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt with an active culture
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat milk, stirring frequently over medium heat, to 185 degrees. Remove from heat, and let cool to 110 degrees.
Place yogurt in a medium bowl. Using a whisk, gradually stir in cooled milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until smooth between additions. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, poking two or three holes for ventilation. Transfer to a warm place (about 90 degrees), and let sit until milk begins to thicken around the edges and the yogurt is set, about 5 hours. (I place mine in a large cooler to maintain the temperature.)
Place bowl in refrigerator until completely chilled. Reserve at least 1/4 cup of this yogurt to begin next batch.
To make this into yogurt cheese, you will need:
4 Layers of cheesecloth -(each measuring 18" to 20" square)
Lowfat plain yogurt
Dampen and wring out the cheesecloth, then lay it into a small colander over a mixing bowl. Spoon the yogurt into the center of the cheesecloth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours. Remove the yogurt from the cheesecloth, and serve.
-- Charlene M. Shupp Espenshade, Special Sections Editor