Straining yogurt removes the thin whey, or liquid portion of the milk, from the milk solids that have thickened and coagulated during fermentation. Straining thickens the yogurt further, resulting in an extraordinary luscious consistency. The longer you allow the yogurt to strain, the thicker it will become—ranging from a soft consistency similar to Greek-style yogurt to a firmer texture, similar to cream cheese. You can use the reserved whey in place of water as a nutrient-dense additive for breads and baked goods, as an addition to your morning smoothie, or as a replacement for vinegar in salad dressings.
- 4 cups plain yogurt
Line a large fine-mesh sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth or a single layer of butter muslin and set it over a large mixing bowl. Pour the yogurt into the sieve, cover it loosely with the overhanging cheesecloth, and let it sit for 8 to 24 hours or until thickened to your liking. Don’t worry about leaving your yogurt on the counter overnight at room temperature; the beneficial bacteria and the acidic nature of yogurt will prevent it from going bad during straining. However, if you prefer, you can move the bowl, yogurt, and strainer to the refrigerator.
Spoon the strained yogurt cheese into a jar, cover, and put it in the fridge, where it should keep for up to a month or so.
Pour the whey into a separate jar and store it for up to 6 months in the back of the refrigerator, where the colder temperature helps to preserve the bacteria and it remains out of the way.
Makes about 2 cups.