Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Making Soft Cheese

A dairy allergy is a terrible thing - oh, how we miss real cheese in my house! So with much consideration, and small food challenges every 6 weeks, we have come to know that our most allergic child can tolerate sheep's milk and sheep's milk yogurt if he eats enzymes before and during consumption. Some people take a lactase enzyme, but I find that taking a protein-specific enzyme is better for my son as his true allergy is to the protein casein, which is present in all mammalian milks (including human breast milk).

Finding pure sheep's milk cheese is difficult, and when I do find it, it is very expensive. Faced with his desire to eat yummy soft, spreadable cheese I have spent some time in the kitchen and came up with the following recipe. This recipe is adaptable and so easy! Enjoy!

16 ounces sheep's milk yogurt (purchase at Whole Foods, or local co-op)
Jelly straining bag or 4 layers of cheese cloth
1 quart (32 ounces / 4 cups) glass wide-mouth jar
Rubber band

3 tablespoons Grade B Maple syrup
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons pure cane sugar
1/4 cup honey of choice
1/4 cup jam or jelly or fruit preserves of choice, such as fig, cherry, or strawberry

1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons onion flakes, 2 teaspoons dried chives
2 teaspoons dried basil, 2 tablespoons finely diced dry-roasted walnuts, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Place 2 cups (16 ounces) sheep's milk yogurt on counter to come to room temperature (72 degrees F).
  2. Place jelly straining bag into wide mouth glass jar, allowing bag to hang only half way into jar - fold excess bag around jar rim.
  3. Scoop room-temperature sheep's milk yogurt into straining bag; gather excess bag and gently twist to close; pull twisted top/excess bag to one side of jar and secure to side by place rubber band tightly around rim of jar, being sure that the bag is suspended only 1/2 way into jar.
  4. Place jar in safe place and drain off the whey for 12 hours or overnight.
  5. Carefully remove straining bag from jar; gently turn bag inside out and remove ball of soft cheese to serving or storage container. Serve.
To store: in glass storage container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks; or wrap tightly in plastic and freeze up to 2 months.
To add flavors: Stir desired sweeteners or savory flavor into yogurt at the beginning of step 1.

Servings: about 12 ounces soft cheese
Prep time: 10 minutes
Inactive time: 12 hours

Any animal-based yogurt can be used in this recipe.


  1. I have never had my son tested for allergies and we don't visit a doctor to re-test and see if he can tolerate foods or anything, but I know he's intolerant to casein. We took him off of casein and within 48 hours, he completely stopped wetting the bed and his bowel movements improved. If it wasn't for the gluten free constipation issues, he'd be home free. I'm wondering, how did you figure out your son could have sheep's milk? Do you think at any point your son will actually be able to tolerate casein? I'm just in this stage right now where our whole family doesn't eat it because of him and because we want him to say healthy and its hard not being able to have that stuff. I'm sure it doesn't stuff to me too...but I don't wet the bed ;). Anyway, wondering about your thoughts on this. BTW, I'm friends with Nicole Ott. That's how I found your blog. I live in Woodbury too :)

  2. Elle - I hear this quite a bit - that the bed wetting stops pretty immediately. To me this confirms that this person suffers fine nerve inflammation as a result of allergic response, in this case to casein and/or lactose. My son suffers this response when he eats corn - so the trigger for this kind of response is unique to the individual. Trial and error is the only method to determine this response - you could test until the cow's come home and still not determine the specific trigger. I am glad you know the specific relationship for your child. And it is through trial (and error) that we introduce (or reintroduce) foods to our most allergic son. I must be clear - he is still allergic to casein and lactose, but with the ever necessary aid of digestive enzymes he can tolerate eating sheep's milk products - and only in a pattern of rotation. I know it is hard to be so strict, but I am seeing that the severity of the allergic response to some proteins lessons as a child ages. I guess this is why some doctors claim a child has "outgrown" an allergy. I don't think a person every loses an allergy, I believe that the response becomes less debilitating and may appear in other ways, such as a stuffy nose or ear/sinus infection in place of bed wetting. I don't hold much stock in retesting for allergies as the food must be included with regularity in a diet to trigger a response on an allergy blood test - this is why we were told by my son's allergist that he had "outgrown" his allergies - because they failed to show on an allergy test. This is a false negative as he is most definitely allergic to his known allergens. We were told to reintroduce the known offenders as a part of his regular diet. I decided to reintroduce them rotationally (once every 6 days) and took a wait and see approach. Thank god we took this cautious approach as he reacted quite profoundly and now has an Epi-pen. So take great care and be specific on what you are attempting to introduce - and wait it out at least 7 days as some symptoms are somewhat delayed in their severity. Good Luck!


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