Yogurt cheese, or strained yogurt, is a method of removing the liquid or whey from the yogurt to create a thick, creamy, slightly tangy “cheese” that is similar in texture to cream cheese. Labneh is a strained yogurt used in many Middle Eastern cuisines and is served as a savory dip, drizzled with olive oil and topped with an herb/spice blend called Za’atar. Greek yogurt (which is also strained yogurt) is not strained as long as labneh so it’s not as thick. The length of time you strain the yogurt will determine it’s thickness. It takes about 12-48 hours to strain the yogurt to get the desired consistency.
Yogurt Cream Cheese
32 ounce container plain low-fat or fat-free yogurt
Line a strainer with cheese cloth or white paper towels. Empty the yogurt into the lined strainer and place the strainer on top of a medium-sized bowl to collect the whey that will drain off of the yogurt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. In about 12 hours, empty the whey that has collected at the bottom of the bowl and return to the refrigerator for another 12-24 hours.
Here’s a comparison in the consistency based on the length of time you strain the yogurt:
12 hours is similar to Greek yogurt
24 hours is perfect for dips
36-48 hours is similar to labneh or soft cream cheese
Nutrition Note: Using low-fat or fat-free yogurt will keep the saturated fat content lower and it will still result in a thick, creamy, velvety spread. Draining yogurt concentrates the protein content of yogurt. That’s why, ounce per ounce, Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt but you will lose a little of the calcium during the draining process.
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