Yes people, you read that correctly. You only need yoghurt. Permit me to start with I hate cheese, probably still do, right from childhood. Gosh the smell, ugh, the taste, double yuck. You couldn’t get me to try anything with cheese even if you tried. While children loved pizza, I wouldn’t touch it. Nothing my mother did not try, nope, I wasn’t having any of it. I was the bush child who didn’t like Pizza and my mother just rolled her eyes in helplessness. Weird thing is I like Wara (our local Nigerian Cheese).
All that changed when I went to Italy for the first time and I tried Lasagna. I ordered it with a lot of trepidation because the diner at the other table was wolfing it down and it looked and smelled great. Surprisingly enough, I enjoyed it. Google to the rescue, I found that lasagna is made with mostly Parmigiano Reggiano, english for Parmesan and sometimes Pecorino Romano. I bought it from a supermarket, my Ijebu brain bought the cheap brand and it was disgusting. I threw the entire pan of Lasagna away. On my quest to finding the cheese that I could tolerate, I went Italian again and tried Mozzarella balls. I loved it because they tasted like Wara (our local Nigerian Cheese). I moved on to Ricotta, and I found that I liked it too. Ok then, being more adventurous I tried Mascarpone, and loved it too. Then I decided to shell out a few extra pennies on Parmesan and Pecorino, and realised, cripes, cheap cheese truly is not the way to go. I loved it too and so far, these are the only types of cheese I can tolerate either raw or in cooked form.
Okay, you can see a trend here. The commonality is Italy. I love Italian cheeses because they are quite tarty and tangy. French cheese, get me the vomit bucket please. The day I tried Brie de Melun at a restaurant, I had to excuse myself to spit it out in the bathroom, I just couldn’t swallow it. I’ve tried Gruyère too, ugh, please shoot me. Roquefort, Camembert ugh. British cheese also has the same effect on me. Give me anything with Cheddar, Stilton or Leicester, and the sight alone will turn my stomach.
After discovering on Facebook months ago, that you can make butter at home, the next thing to look for, was making cheese. I have made Wara at home before, but like Wara, the cheese recipes I was seeing, though very simple to make, the ingredients used are not universally easy to find, until I put into Google, how to make cheese with one ingredient and voila, I got an answer I was not expecting. Yoghurt. Plain or Natural Yoghurt is all you need to make Cream Cheese. No fuss, no fancy hard to source ingredients. Wherever you live in the world, you will be able to find yoghurt. Now, I am going to use this post as my training wheels for making cheese, so that when I post more homemade cheese recipes with ingredients like cream, rennet, bacteria culture etc, I would have at least given some of you readers the chance to try at least one of them. This one.
You will need
1 container of plain or natural yoghurt – or more
Salt to taste
I must stress that you need plain, natural or greek style yoghurt. Anything that has been sweetened in any way will NOT work. You need yoghurt in its sour original form. You can use full fat or low-fat.
Cheese cloth – or any white fine cloth with tiny holes
cardboard or carton paper
A heavy cylindrical object like an unopened can
1. Get your container of yoghurt, whatever volume you can find. Also get out the cheese cloth or whatever fine white material you are using and make 3 layers, if you have sufficient fabric, otherwise one or two layers, is just fine
2. Line the layered cheese cloth into a bowl and pour the yoghurt in. Short story: I ordered cheese cloth online and despite being told it will be delivered within 48 hours, it wasn’t. So, I had to make do with this piece of fine white felt like fabric I use at home for cleaning. Luckily, I had just one unused one left. If you have cheese cloth, or a white piece of fabric with tiny holes in, or even a very light napkin, use it.
3. As soon as you lift the cloth up, you will see liquid oozing out below, this is what you want. It should happen almost immediately, if the cloth is fine enough. See picture below. All that pooled into the bowl in under a minute. That is when you know you have a good thing going there.
4. Assist the process by squeezing out some of the whey with your hands
5. Tie the edges of the cloth and hang it up in the fridge for 24 hours, with a container to hold the whey that drips. Traditionally, you let it hang over the tap, but it would be in your way, so it is best to tie it up, get a piece of string or unused elastic band, and hang it over something that will also collect the whey. In my case, I was making a small test batch, so my tall glass was just fine. Remember, leave in the fridge to drain for 24 hours.
6. After 24 hours, this should be what is left in the cloth with whey drained out. Squeeze out as much of the whey you can from the cloth first, before examining what is inside the cloth. If the fabric still feels very wet and the curds feel mushy, like congealed yoghurt instead of the creamy cheesy texture, it means the whey hasn’t drained out enough. Leave for another day or so and it should be fine.
7. If you have excess cheese cloth, double line a ramekin (or round container) that is deep enough to hold your cheese. If like me, you don’t have excess fabric, then thoroughly rinse out the fabric you used to drain off the whey and double line your round container.
8. Season the cheese with salt. You just need a little, so don’t over salt it.
9. Scoop the salted cheese into the double lined ramekin
10. Cut out a piece of plastic wrap that is round enough to fit over the cheese. This will help peeling it out easier. You can use a supermarket plastic bag. I definitely did.
11. In the same vein, cut out a piece of cardboard or carton, and place over the plastic wrap. An easy way to get the exact shape and size you need is to place the container over the cardboard or carton and use a pair of scissors to trace out the shape you need.
12. Find something slightly heavy which has a base that will fit nicely over the top of the cardboard to weigh it down and place in the fridge for 2 days.
2 days later, take your container out of the fridge, peel out all the layers and you should have this gorgeous cream cheese that tastes sublime. Way better than anything you will ever buy in a supermarket. Considering I’m not a huge fan of cheese, I made a small batch, and it finished in minutes with crackers and nuts. Now, I have to get a bigger container of yoghurt and make more.
To make it even more delightful, drizzle over some golden syrup and nuts. I saw it being served this way on one of the sites with steps on how to make cheese. This is a gorgeous option for a Starter for your dinner party. Just make individual pieces of cream cheese a few days before your party and serve with nuts. Drizzle with honey, golden syrup, maple syrup or hot sauce and that’s your Starter done
Who wouldn’t want to be served this?
As you can see, I dug in really fast with Jacobs Crackers
Perfect Sunday snack. You can also add icing sugar to your cream cheese to make cream cheese frosting for chocolate cake or red velvet cake.
I descended on the Cashew nuts too
Lest I forget, you can also make your own Homemade yoghurt. Just buy a jar of yoghurt, and mix with milk, shake thoroughly and leave in the fridge for a few days. The culture in your store-bought yoghurt, will combine with the added milk, turning the entire solution to yoghurt. See, two recipes in one post. How cool is that?
Look out for my recipe this week on how to make Homemade Jam. Have you looked at my Homemade French bread? You really need to. It is equally as simple, with minimal effort. Recipe HERE