Frugalista: Yogurt Cheese is Super Easy!

As a well-known 12-step program has taught my family, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.  My problem is good cheese.  I can’t handle not having it, but my brain also can’t handle paying for it.

Not to make light of addiction, because my, um…  Passion for goat cheese is a far cry from one.  However paying the $5 to $7 price for those becoming logs of goat cheese at the supermarket for a mere 4 ounces nearly kills me.  The problem, beyond being proudly cheap, is that once I get it home I will sit and eat the entire thing in one sitting.  Sometimes by itself.  And, well, sitting isn’t really the proper word for it.  It’s more of an ecstatic writhing.  Complete with moaning if I happen to be alone – Which I usually am since I wouldn’t want anyone else to witness me partaking in rolling around on the ground speaking in tongues over food.

I figure as long as I’m not naked while doing this, I’m not hitting an all-time low.  But summer is coming up, so I wouldn’t rule it out completely just yet once the weather is warmer.

In my quest to be more in touch with my food and save lots of money, I’ve discovered that yogurt cheese is much cheaper to make and is an acceptable substitution.  I picked up one of the larger bulk containers of plain yogurt yesterday for $2; granted it’s not organic.  (We’re still not 100% organic around here, but that’s another blog post altogether.)

I don’t have cheesecloth currently, but it’s the ideal thing to use.  Instead, just this once, I stole a couple of Mr. NaW’s coffee filters, because my floursack towels are all dirty.  I’ve found that floursack towels work.  So if you have them (everyone should!) and a lack of cheesecloth, by all means use them…  Just not the ones you use for household chemicals obviously.

Here is my recipe-in-progress*:

Yields approximately 2 cups of soft cheese.

3 cups yogurt
Dash of salt
Dash of pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon dried chives

  1. Mix it all up in a bowl
  2. Line a metal strainer with 2 layers of cheese cloth or flour sack.  Put yogurt and herb mixture onto your cloth.
  3. At this point you can optionally wrap your yogurt with the cloth and begin wringing out some of the moisture from it.  This will mean you don’t have to wait as long for awesomeness, but don’t feel the need to if you’re patient.  Return to strainer.
  4. Put the cloth on the strainer again, and put the strainer on top of a bowl so that the water can drain into it.
  5. Put the bowl in the refrigerator for a day or two.  I suggest dumping the liquid from time-to-time just so you can check out how your cheese is doing.
  6. Transfer to a clean, sealed container – Like the yogurt container if it had a lid!  This should keep about two weeks.
  7. Feel less neurotically guilty about the price of deliciousness as you devour it.  Clothing optional.

Even those who are less hardcore in DIYing than I am may want to give this a try!  I mean how much easier can it get than mixing things up in a bowl and basically wandering off for a couple days?

I’m pondering the future with a sun-dried tomato and basil mix.  Or maybe garlic overload.  What other things can you think to add in with this?

*Warning: My recipes-in-progress rarely involve exact measurements.  I hold the title of Queen Eyeballer in my home.  I’ve successfully made cookies in the past with no measuring cups or spoons, so I can’t be too bad at it.  However, I’d start with small amounts of seasoning and taste as you add more.  Rarely does anyone get as thrilled over dill as I do.


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