Dairy-Free Cheesecloth Uses and Recipes

The other day I was picking up some cheesecloth from the store. At checkout the cashier asked what type of cheese I was making. "Pardon?" I responded.

"What kind of cheese are you making?" she asked again. I stumbled to answer because it didn't even occur to me that that's what cheesecloth is actually used for!

In case you're unfamiliar, cheesecloth is a gauze-like cotton cloth. As its name implies, it's used to strain whey from the curds, which is part of the process of making cheese. Cooks have expanded its use beyond cheese, however — as you can tell from my story, when I didn't even realize what the cashier was asking.

So…why was I making that purchase? I wanted to make almond milk from scratch, and straining the liquid to remove the almond pulp is the last step.

Cheesecloth is a perfect tool for cooking because it doesn't fall apart when wet, it's more flexible than traditional strainers, and it won't alter the flavor of your food. Its flexibility is important because you can manipulate the material with your hands in order to extract as much liquid as possible.

Beyond milk alternatives, cheesecloth can be used to make yogurt, strain broth from vegetables or meat, or as a powdered sugar duster. Making fresh juices has gained increasing popularity, but juicers and even high-speed blenders can be expensive. If you're looking to create a smooth beverage using a traditional household blender, you can strain your creation through cheesecloth to remove the pulp and enjoy a fresh juice.

Cheesecloths are readily available, but if you're in a pinch, you can also use a coffee filter. You won't have the same flexibility, but coffee filters can hold heavy, wet ingredients to separate solid from liquid.  Nut milk bags are another alternative that can be washed and reused. Fun fact: Cheesecloths were used as window screens before wire screening became the standard! Now that you're in the know – here are a couple of recipes that you can give a try!


Unsweetened Almond Milk

Recipe by Kareen Turner, MPH, RD

Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients
1 cup almonds, soaked at least 2 hours prior
4 cups water

Directions

  1. Process in a blender.
  2. Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth.
  3. To sweeten blend the almond milk with dates, maple syrup or honey to your taste.
  4. Keep refrigerated for three days.

Kale Powerhouse Blender Green Juice

Recipe by Kareen Turner, MPH, RD

Yields 32 ounces

Ingredients
2 cups fresh orange juice
½ cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 frozen banana
4 leaves of kale
¼-inch piece of ginger

Directions

  1. Process all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth.
  3. Enjoy!
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Kareen Turner
Kareen Turner, MPH, RD, is the director of food and nutrition services at Loma Linda University Medical Center – Murrieta and founder of IAmEatingRight.com. Watch her YouTube video series, "12 Days to Abundant & Vibrant Living in 2013," and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.