Fresh Cheese

When I was young my mother would sometimes make cheese if milk had started to sour. Not a matured cheddar cheese or anything like that but a simple, home-made, fresh cheese, just as people have done all over the world whenever they have had spare or spoiling or leftover dairy products.

It’s easy enough – all you need is some milk or yoghurt, a sieve, a jug, some salt and some muslin. If you want to flavour it, you can mix in some chopped herbs say, or lemon zest, or garlic.. maybe crushed black peppercorns….. anything at all.

As part of the Great Greek Yoghurt Experiment I thought I would use some of the yoghurt to make cheese as I need some for another recipe.

You do need to allow some time for this but don’t worry, it’s not as if you have to be busy with it, hour after hour. Like much else we do, it is a case of starting it off and then leaving it to do its business until we wander back to it.

So, first of all, get your yoghurt

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………and think about what you want your cheese for.

I want to use it in a recipe that will involve roasted game, thyme and lemon so I will add lemon zest and thyme to it. If you want plain cheese then you make plain cheese – if you want something else then you add it. It really is as simple as that.

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My balcony herb box is looking a bit battered now but there’s still plenty of thyme.

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Strip the leaves from it and chop it finely.

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Get a lemon (make sure that you wash it properly – especially if it is a waxed one. You certainly don’t want wax in your lovely fresh cheese! If it is unwaxed then scrub it just as carefully because you certainly don’t want people’s dirty fingers in your cheese either)

Get a lemon zester and get some lemon zest (that was a difficult photo to take… clutching the lemon and the zester in one hand as I leant over to take a shot with the other) and then chop the zest finely

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And now for the important bit – using the yoghurt. This will make lovely, thick, smooth cheese. (If you are using sour milk it will be an awful lot thinner and more lumpy, more like cottage cheese.)

Total Greek Yoghurt is already strained so it is, to start with, thick and smooth.. look at it….

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it’s so thick you almost need to cut it.

Get it into a bowl and then add a pinch or two of salt and the finely chopped thyme and lemon zest

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Mix it all together and then….

…….Get your high tech cheese making equipment together

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You need a sieve and a jug and some muslin, if you have any

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I can’t find mine so I bought some new dishcloths – they are tightly woven and at 3 for 25p, a bit of a bargain. Give them a good wash in plenty of hot water, rinsing well to make sure they are clean

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and line the sieve, which is now placed over the jug

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and then scoop your yoghurty, herby, lemony mix in there.

Technical, huh?


Then you put it in the fridge and leave it. You’ll need at least a day, preferably two. I put it in on Friday night and now, Sunday lunchtime, it is perfectly drained. The Total site has a recipe for making much the same cheese – except they add mint and  call it Labna. Just goes to show that wherever you go people make the same food using the same ingredients.

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Even though it is strained, some whey can still come out… there’ll not be much, though and you will see the yoghurt is becoming more dense. More cream cheese like…

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See? It is so dense you can just lift it out of the draining cloth.

And that’s it… you’ve done it. Perfect cream cheese, flavoured exactly as you want it, made with the simplest ingredients.

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It’s ready for you to eat now, just as it is. What could be simpler?

I am going to use this in a couple of things I am making……. and I bet you will want to make them too, so start on your fresh cheese now and catch up with me later!

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