How to Make Strained Yoghurt Cream Cheese PLUS Labneh, Shrikhand and 5 Other Ways to Use It

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Strained or Hung Yoghurt Cream Cheese is made using natural Greek yoghurt, a muslin cloth and a little waiting time. It can be served as a savoury spiced Labneh, Shrikhand with sweet toppings, used in baking, cooking or eaten fresh. Since most of the whey is strained away, it can be enjoyed by people who are mildly lactose intolerant.

Strained Yoghurt Cream Cheese-2

Strained yoghurt is a popular style of cheese used in Southern European, Middle Eastern, Central and Southern Asian cooking.  Unlike cream cheese, yoghurt cheese is high in gut beneficial bacteria, is creamy without the excess fat and since most of the whey is strained away, it can be enjoyed by people who are mildly lactose intolerant.

Strained Yoghurt Labne Cheese Balls

I first discovered Labneh – balls of strained yoghurt preserved in herb-infused oil about 3 years ago. It became an instant infatuation. I quickly decided to make my own because, firstly, it was cheaper and because I could preserve mine in pure olive oil instead of “vegetable” oil blends that the more expensive stuff from the deli came swimming in.

So, how do you make it? It’s simple really.

How to make Strained Yoghurt steps

The secret of this recipe lies in the quality of the yoghurt used. I absolutely adore Farmer’s Union Greek-style yoghurt. It’s thick and creamy already without any thickeners (gelatine, gums) or additives frequently used in  a few of the other brands, plus it is beautifully tart. Oh how I adore it with diced peaches and cinnamon, but that’s a different story…

Strained Yoghurt Cream Cheese-3

After making strained yoghurt cream cheese a handful of times, I realised just how very versatile the cheese was and how easily it could form a base for many dishes, both sweet and savoury. Nowadays I keep a serving on hand most of the time.

Here are 7 of my favourite ways to use it:

1. Make Middle Eastern Labneh and preserve it in quality olive oil and your favourite blend of spices and herbs. It will last for months, but I bet it will be all gone not before long. Spread it on bread, use to top salads, add some to mash.

2. Because of the lower water content than yoghurt itself, it can be used as an addition to sauces without splitting, so it is a fantastic for soups and curries.

3. It makes for a creamier, richer base for dips such as the Greek tzatziki, Lebanese garlic sauce or Turkish haydari which is similar to tzatziki but does not include cucumber. My most recent favourite is salmon and yoghurt cream cheese dip – you can use this yoghurt dip version as a base. I’m also thinking of making a smoked mackerel version!

4. Use it in frostings and icings instead of cream cheese – less fat and a great dose of healthy cultures in each cupcake serve.

5. Bake it in things like this Lime Yoghurt Cheesecake, set it in this No-bake Yoghurt Cheesecake or anywhere else where cream cheese is required.

6. We use it as topping for nachos and tacos instead of sour cream, crumble it into for salads and or enjoy spread fresh on Ryvita crispbread topped with smoked salmon, tomato or tuna.

7. Make Indian Shrikhand (recipe below), which is a sweet strained yoghurt dish that incorporates sugar – I prefer to use honey or rice syrup, nuts and fruit. It’s refreshing and often enjoyed instead of ice cream. You can obviously go all out in terms of the seeds, nuts and spices.

Strained Yoghurt Shrikhand

How to Make Strained Yoghurt Cream Cheese
Author: 
Recipe type: yoghurt, homemade, cream cheese, strained yoghurt, gluten-free,
Cuisine: Middle Eastern, Greek, Israeli, Asian
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
 
Actual working time is around 15 minutes, but you need to allow 12-36 hours for the yoghurt to strain. Greek-style natural full fat yoghurt is the best, but because the texture of the cheese becomes dense and creamy, low fat varieties can also be used. Makes about 450g / 1lb cheese (a fist-sized ball)
Ingredients
For Labne Yoghurt Cheese Balls:
  • 500g (17.5oz) Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 large piece gauze, muslin or cheesecloth
Instructions
To make the cheese:
  1. Fold the cheesecloth so that it is 2-3 single layers thick. Place the cloth over a bowl. Mix yoghurt in the tub and spoon into the middle of the cheese cloth. Gather the edges up tightly and tie into a knot on the top.
  2. Using a couple of bamboo skewers, or a chopstick, hang the yoghurt ball over a plastic container and place in the fridge. Allow the whey (milky water) to drip into the container for 12 - 36 hours. The longer you allow it to hang the denser the cheese will become. Pour off the whey (you can keep it for use in smoothies or cake batters instead of water) after the first 12 or so hours.
To preserve the cheese
  1. You can preserve the cheese in herb and spice infused oil for upto 1 month, or keep in in an airtight container for upto a week.

Strained Yoghurt Shrikhand
Author: 
Recipe type: yoghurt, dessert, cream cheese,
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Shrikhand is a popular Indian dessert made from yoghurt, sugar and nuts. It can be enjoyed during warmer weather in place of ice cream. Make it your own by adding your favourite nuts and seeds, dried fruit if you wish, and a drizzle of honey or rice syrup.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup strained yoghurt cream cheese
  • ¼ cup mixed (activated) nuts and seeds
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves or cardamom
  • 2 tbsp honey or rice syrup
Instructions
  1. Spread strained yoghurt in a bowl or on a side plate. Sprinkle over with your favourite nuts, seeds and spices. Drizzle with rice syrup or honey.

 

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Comments:

24 Responses to How to Make Strained Yoghurt Cream Cheese PLUS Labneh, Shrikhand and 5 Other Ways to Use It

  1. Sharon Stevens says:

    Just saw this on Pinterest and had to read. Love yogurt and cream cheese but knowing that the latter can be made more healthy is great. *drool* just looking at the dessert to. Pinning and trying today!

  2. Lizzy says:

    Wow! So easy and I’ve been enjoying that yogurt from your recommendation in the cheesecake post. Now this? Amazing! Thank you!

  3. sophie says:

    Where do you get cheesecloth from?

    • You can get it from many large kitchenware stores, but to be honest I often just pop down to the local pharmacy and buy large sheets of gauze bandage (rectangular, square or even traingles). They come in sterile packets so are safe to use with food. Easy and convenient, and to be honest, much cheaper too! I wash mine out in warm soapy water after use too and let it dry for re-using.

  4. Great Post Martyna! I want to try this as well and thanks loads for all the diverse ways that it can be used. Have a super week. Take care, BAM

  5. Ah, you and your cheese making! You always make me so jealous that I don’t do it more often. This looks wonderful.

  6. Joe says:

    What a simple recipe but has so many uses. Thanks for the yogurt recommendation too. Do you know if it is free range / organic?

    • Hi Joe, I have spoken to Farmers Union representative and they have confirmed that the yoghurt uses milk from pasture-raised cows (free-range). Feed is mostly fresh grass, but is adjusted seasonally and supplemented with hay and some grains.The farmers who produce the milk for the yoghurt are also required to follow the dairy industry’s regulations on best practice. It is produced in Morwell, Victoria and has been crowned the Champion Natural Yoghurt of 2014.

  7. Anne says:

    Dear Martyna, I made this cheese on the weekend to use in your smoked salmon dip. It was fabulous. SO light and and tangy. Everyone loved it and wanted the recipe. Best of all one of my lactose intolerant friends tried it and she was fine. Thank you for sharing this. I won;t be buying cream cheese again.

  8. Carol says:

    Might seem like a stupid question but can I use readymade Shrikhand as a substitute of cream cheese to make a cheesecake?

    Thank you for your time!

  9. Bianca says:

    Oh no- I just tried this, and the result looked amazing but tasted like mould! There was mildew forming on the cloth when I retrieved the cheese after 24 hrs. I live in a warm climate (Barcelona) where it’s 24 c + right now- could that be the issue? Have you heard of this happening before?

    • Hi Bianca, did you keep the yoghurt in the fridge while hanging in a cheesecloth? It must be refrigerated otherwise bacteria and mould can form. It’s also important to make sure the cloth you used is sterile (that’s why I like gauze dressing sheets from the pharmacy). And the use by date of yoghurt is one to watch too.

      • Pip says:

        Hi, I currently make my own yoghurt using a Luvelo yoghurt maker. I am interested in making cheese from this yoghurt but see that you use a very think textured yoghurt. Have you tried making the cheese with a less firm yoghurt? I am just curious as to whether it would work.

        • Hi Pip,
          I used Greek-style yoghurt which indeed is a little thicker because it’s partially strained, but I am sure the same method would work with your yoghurt – you might just have to leave it to strain a little longer. Make sure you do that in the fridge (not on the bench top). Let me know how you go!

          • Jhanny says:

            Hello Martyna
            I’m very pleased to discover your website. I’m looking to make a cream cheese for a cheesecake receipe and this looks great.
            When the Yogurt is straining – where is the best place to keep it?
            Does it need to be in the fridge while its straining so it doesn’t go off?
            Many thanks
            Jhanny

          • Jhanny says:

            Lol no bother, just seen the reply above. Question answered! I really do need reading glasses!
            Jh

 

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