- 500g/17 oz plain full fat yogurt or soy yogurt, purchased or make your own
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (if you’d rather have a sweet version, use 3 tablespoons of superfine/caster sugar instead of the salt)
- Flavorings/spices: crushed coriander or cumin seeds, citrus zest, pinch dried chilli, fresh herbs finely chopped, vanilla paste, chopped dried fruits, etc. (Optional)
Cut a large square of cheesecloth or muslin (calico) (around 15 inches or 38cm in diameter). Rinse the cheesecloth or muslin and line a colander or sieve with it. Ensure that excess cloth hangs over the edges; you’ll be using this to tie up with.
- Place the lined colander or sieve over a suitably sized mixing bowl. Alternatively, use a jelly stand if you have one.
- Pour the yogurt into another mixing bowl. Add the salt (or sugar). If using flavorings or spices, add at this stage. Anything added should be completely stirred through. Traditionalists enjoy this cheese extremely pungent, so adding spices is usual. Experiment with different mixes to find what works best for you. If you’d rather add the spices or flavorings later, see below.
- Empty the mixed yogurt on top of the cheesecloth. It’s best spooned in, to save splashing mess.
- Bring up the sides and tie tightly with string, leaving a length of string to tie up so the bag will hang and drip into the bowl placed beneath the bag.
- Place a weight on top of the tied-up bag. The easiest thing to use is a small plate with a can placed on top. It doesn’t need to be that heavy.
- Place the container in a cool place for at least 15 hours. Purists leave the cheese out in a cool room to drip into a sink. However, if your kitchen or storage area isn’t very cool, to minimize the risk of bacteria or mold, place the cheese mixture into the refrigerator.
- The cheese can be left for 1-2 days, until the desired consistency is reached. The longer that the cheese is left, the firmer it becomes.
- The process can be sped up by squeezing the cheesecloth/muslin to force the excess water out.
- At this stage, you can add fresh herbs or dried fruit by whisking/beating this through the cheese. Obviously this will change the consistency and shape of the cheese, so be sure you wish to do this at this stage.
9. Store in the refrigerator, covered. Placing plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cheese keeps it fresher.
This cheese will keep for up to 4 days when chilled and covered.For longer keeping, roll the cheese into small balls. Place the balls into a sterilized jar and cover with extra virgin olive oil. Add some rosemary or thyme stalks and some spice seeds such as coriander. Leave to marinate; it should be allowed to marinate for at least 1 day before eating. Store in the refrigerator and use within a week or two.
10. Serve. The cheese is for spreading and goes well with fresh bread and on crackers. It’s also enjoyable on its own, added to a platter of dips and crudités and as a topping for steamed vegetables.