What Is a Cheesecloth? Where Can I Buy It?

This “kitchen tool” shows up in recipes quite often—but what exactly is it?

What is cheesecloth?
Cheesecloth is a cotton cloth that is loosely woven and resembles gauze. It comes in seven grades, from open to extra-fine weave. The grade is determined by the amount of threads per inch constructed in each direction.

What is cheesecloth used for?
The primary use of cheesecloth is for making cheese, but it is also a great tool for straining water and capturing solids in various recipes. You might want to have cheesecloth on hand if you’re making homemade almond milk, homemade ketchup, infused oils, fresh fruit drinks, and more.

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Where can I buy cheesecloth?
Cheesecloth is widely available in many grocery stores and fabric stores. You will be sure to find some at JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores, and a natural cotton cheesecloth is available at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

How to Strain Yogurt

Vlad Fishman / Getty Images

The thick strained yogurt used in Greek cooking may not be available in your local market, but you can learn how to make the homemade version. It's not only great for preparing Greek foods but other foods as well! Use commercial or homemade full-fat, low-fat, or fat-free yogurt to make the Mediterranean variety, also known as "yogurt cheese." It's easy to make this kind of yogurt, but it can take hours to complete the process, so carve out some time in your schedule to ensure you do it correctly.

Best Instant-Read Thermometer: Frienda 11.8 Inch Stainless Steel Instant Read Thermometer

The first step in the cheesemaking process is heating the milk. If the milk is too cold or too hot, the coagulation process won’t happen the way it should. Thus, an instant-read thermometer is an essential tool for any at-home cheesemaker, no matter which type of cheese they’re trying to make. We love the Frienda 11.8 Inch Stainless Steel Instant-Read Thermometer for a few reasons. Its long stem is perfect for cheesemaking (because you’ll want to make most cheese in your stockpot), and the clip ensures that you don’t have to hold the thermometer while gently stirring your soon-to-be-cheese.

What Is a Good Alternative for Cheesecloth?

December 16, 2013 By Heather Solos 7 Comments As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I need a good alternative for cheese cloth. I’ve been making a lot of juice lately and I want to strain out the seeds and pulp, but cheese cloth gets expensive quickly. Do you have any suggestions?

Strained in Strasbourg

Heather says:

Cheese cloth certainly has its uses and it can be washed and re-used, but and it’s a big BUT, it is rather delicate, frays, and generally becomes more pain than it is worth rather quickly.

Tea towels made from linen are a more durable alternative, but again washing is something of an issue and they must be kept meticulously clean. (Note, pastry cloth is useful if you are looking for an alternative for baking, this question is about general kitchen use.)

So how does the budget and eco conscious consumer strain all the things without filling landfills or draining the budget? heh

You spend a little extra, one time, on a fine mesh strainer, known to chefs as a chinois.

This one is available on Amazon for about $25 give or take as prices fluctuate. This comes in three different sizes an 8″, 10″, or 12″ strainer. You can also buy a pointed pestle to squash food through the mesh. A spoon mostly works, but as foods get down toward the point it can be a little aggravating.

So, if you’re an Alton Brown fan, how do you decide whether or not this is a tool worthy of taking up your valuable kitchen space?

The chinois is useful for:

  • making stock or bouillon -who needs to tie up a bouquet garnis? Not you.
  • straining sauces -like caramel
  • draining yogurt for recipes like tzatziki (cucumber sauce)
  • draining cooked pumpkin for pies and other recipes – oh look Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie
  • canning and preserving
  • straining -duh
  • a silly hat for a toddler -the reinforced sides make it more durable than a plain fine mesh strainer.

But Heather, that costs 25 dollars. You’re right, it does. Cheese cloth at the grocery store, because I’m not about to drive all over town to find it generally runs about 4 bucks and I get enough for maybe two recipes, let’s pretend I had the time, energy, and wherewithal to wash and reuse it, maybe I’ll get another one or two uses out of it. So on the generous side let’s pretend I get four uses out of one pack of cheese cloth. That’s in the neighborhood of twelve recipes that I’ll get to make before I’m now playing the I’ve spent more money than I would have on the chinois. This doesn’t take into account the whole, time factor, either.

So, your mileage may vary, if you only do one or two big cooking projects a year, then you’re absolutely right, cheese cloth is the right strategy for your household. If you are getting into scratch cooking, canning and preserving, or like to make sauces, it’s absolutely worth the investment.

What do you think? Would a chinois be a useful addition to your kitchen or simply a waste of space?

Submit your questions to [email protected].

In traditional French cooking, a bouquet garni is a collection of herbs used to flavor sauces. A good way to make sure you&aposre not left trying to pick out and locate that stray bay leaf or sprig of thyme is to use cheescoth. You just wrap the herbs in a little cheesecloth packet, tie it with kitchen twine, and drop it into the pot. At the end, you can fish the packet out all at once rather than go on a hunt for herb stems. If you&aposre worried that you&aposll forget about the bouquet before serving the dish, tie it to the handle of the pot with a longer length of cooking twine.

When you&aposre dusting powdered sugar over cookies or cake, you can whip up a quick device that&aposll make things go a little quicker. Just fasten a screen of cheesecloth to the top of a cup filled with powdered sugar with a rubber band, and use it as an easy way to control how much sugar goes onto your dessert.

How to Clarify Butter Without Cheesecloth?

Here is the basic clarification method that is most used, followed by different ways to remove the foam and milk solids.

The approximate time to make it is 30 minutes.

  1. Take a pot or heavy-bottom saucepan and slowly melt the unsalted butter over low heat. Don't stir.
  2. As it melts, carefully skim the white foam that rises to the surface with a Slotted Spoon, skimmer, or a ladle.
  3. Once it begins to boil, keep skimming off all the white foam that is rising to the surface. This step should take about 5-10 min.
  4. Carefully pour the top layer – the liquid golden butterfat – into a bowl, jar, or container for storage. Make sure to leave the leftover milk solids at the bottom of the pan.

Using Cheesecloth

In addition to just skimming the white foam as the butter is melting, you can filter it through cheesecloth.

  1. Melt and skim as much of the foam as possible, as instructed above.
  2. Line a fine-mesh or regular strainer with layers of cheesecloth.
  3. Tilt the pan very gently and carefully pour the melted butterfat through the cheesecloth.
  4. If there are a lot of leftover milk solids at the bottom, don't pour them through the cheesecloth, just discard them.

If you don't have cheesecloth to strain the foam and solids at the end, you can just use the fine-mesh strainer on its own or a tea strainer lined with a coffee filter.

A less effective method is to wait until the butter is melted, pour it into a container, and let it separate while cooling. Once it cools into a solid form, scrape the hard foam off the top.

Keep in mind that the more milk solids you remove, the more clarified the butter is, and the better it is for frying. It will also keep for longer.

Clarifying Butter in the Microwave

Technically, you can also clarify butter in the microwave.

  1. Take a deep, microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Microwave it until the butter is completely melted.
  3. Remove it from microwave and let it sit for 5 minutes while all the milk solids and water settle to the bottom.
  4. Skim off all the froth on the top.
  5. Slowly pour off the clear butterfat into the jar or a container (use a cheesecloth or coffee filters if you have any).
  6. Leave the leftover milk solids in the pot.

I have personally never used a microwave to do it as I don't have one, but it seems that it requires a bit more trial and error. I would recommend that you stick to the stove method.

Can we reuse cheesecloth?

Coffee filters, paper towels and linen dishcloths make viable cheesecloth substitutes in a pinch. Coffee filters and paper towels work best for straining soups and sauces however, paper towels absorb liquid during straining until they saturate, so you lose a little volume of soup or sauce in the straining process.

Subsequently, question is, where can you get cheesecloth? Hence, it can be easily found in supermarkets or grocery stores. Look for cooking gadgets and kitchen supplies in the cooking section. Cheesecloth is mostly stocked around this stuff. You can also buy cheesecloth at fabric stores or stores that stock sewing stuff.

Then, how do you wash new cheesecloth?

Wash in the washing machine or by hand in the sink. Avoid detergents and fabric softeners. Use only mild detergent if necessary, and rinse thoroughly to remove any soap residue. If there are bits of curd sticking to the cloth, rinse with whey or white vinegar to help remove it.

Can you use flour sack towels instead of cheesecloth?

Flour sack towels have many uses in the kitchen because they are lint-free and safe to use around food. You can use them as an alternative cheesecloth or for when you need a cloth strainer for recipes. You can also wrap warm rolls in them to keep them warm.


The traditional purpose of cheesecloth was to wrap cheese in, as the name in English implies.

It is a cotton cloth made in a loose weave. There are fine and coarse versions, though when the weave gets very fine, the line between cheesecloth and butter muslin starts to blur. You can get it bleached and unbleached .

Cheesecloth doesn’t shed lint, doesn’t lose its strength when wet, and doesn’t impart any flavour to food.

It can be used for straining, as a pouch for putting a bouquet garni in, lining moulds, or wrapping delicate foods such as fish in before poaching. In book binding, cheesecloth is sometimes used as a fabric to line the spine of the book.

It is usually sold in bags at stores. You can also buy it by the yard in fabric stores, if you use a lot of it. You can cut larger pieces into smaller pieces as needed.

It can be washed and reused several times.

Homemade Butter and Buttermilk using Heavy Cream

Guys, this is the real deal. Homemade butter and homemade buttermilk using heavy cream.

Make homemade butter and buttermilk at the same time.

It&rsquos basically a two-fer. When you make butter, you get buttermilk as a by product. What a beautiful thing! Especially considering the whole process takes about 15 minutes all said on done thanks to modern kitchen tools.

Go modern or go old school.

Your choice. You can use a blender, a food process or a mixer. Or, if you&rsquore a gluten for punishment, you can use an old fashion butter churn like we do. 🙂 The kids think it&rsquos fun and I tell myself that I&rsquom burning calories in order to feel justified when I slather a piece of bread with butter and chow down.

If you&rsquore trying to just get some homemade butter stat though, you might just want to go ahead and use a stand mixer or a food processor.

Homemade Butter in 15 Minutes

It&rsquos really easy to make homemade butter and doesn&rsquot take a lot of time either.

Check out this step by step video showing the process:

Cheesecloth is helpful for making homemade butter.

So once you sort out what tool you want to use to make your butter and buttermilk, you&rsquore truly half way there. Just beat the heavy cream until is separates, pour off the buttermilk and save it for something yummy (ideas below).

Then you&rsquoll need to rinse and knead the butter to get out the rest of the buttermilk. The best way to do this is using cheesecloth. Some recipes will tell you to press it out with a spoon but I have a hard time imagining how that works. You&rsquove got to really knead the butter fat to get all the milk out, then rinse it several times under cold water. Cheesecloth acts as a strainer for you to do that really easily. You can buy cheesecloth at some groceries stores or online. Shop cheesecloth on Amazon.

What happens if you don&rsquot get all the buttermilk out of your butter?

Basically, bad things. You want to take a little extra time to make sure you squeeze all the buttermilk out.

Why though? Well, first, you don&rsquot want your butter to be milky because this will make things like your toast soggy instead of nice and crispy. Second, the buttermilk will start to go bad quickly. So guess what happens to your butter then? Yup. It starts to taste rancid. Not good if you&rsquore going for the creamy, salty butter taste.

Can you make butter out of pasteurized heavy cream?

In short, yes. But there&rsquos a looooong answer to this because you need to understand that pasteurization is a process that heats raw milk to get rid of certain bacteria and ultimately makes the milk last longer on the shelf. Some argue that nutrients are also lost with the pasteurization process. You can read more about pasteurization as well as homogenization here.

Depending on what state you live in, you may be able to find a small market or local dairy farm that sells raw milk if you&rsquore interested in getting the health benefits of raw milk and are not afraid of the risks. Read more about the risks of consuming raw milk here.

So, now that you&rsquore more familiar with pasteurization, you need to know that the pasteurization process does not prevent the natural separation process that happens when you churn heavy cream.

Pasteurized or not, the fat or cream, separates from the milk. The reason this separation occurs is because the membranes surrounding the fat in milk are very fragile and they rupture when agitated (source). Once the membranes are rupture, the fat can attach to other fat and eventually begins to form clumps, leaving behind the milk.

Since pasteurized heavy cream does no contain cultures, some say you don&rsquot get as buttery of a taste as you would using raw milk, or when you add cultures back in. However, it&rsquos still quite yummy so you can choose whether or not to take the extra step of adding cultures.

So what about buttermilk? Can buttermilk be made from pasteurized heavy cream?

Yes and no. I&rsquoll explain. But first you&rsquoll be curious to know that the buttermilk you can buy at the store is actually not necessarily real buttermilk. Shocker, I know. I was surprised to learn this myself. The reason though, goes back to pasteurization.

The pasteurization process kills harmful bacteria but it also kills active cultures that contain helpful bacteria. You&rsquove probably heard them called pro-biotics. There are a number of drinks now you can buy that have been re-cultured after pasteurization in order to re-gain those pro-biotics.


So, in a similar way, you can re-culture your buttermilk if you want to sour it naturally. You can purchase culture starters and add them to your buttermilk, follow the instructions for fermenting and you&rsquoll have wonderfully soured buttermilk in two or three days.

Another way to add live cultures to your buttermilk is by using a product you can find at most grocery stores called Kefir. You just need to stir in a small amount into your buttermilk. Then cover your container of buttermilk with cheesecloth or a cotton shirt so it gets air but keeps dust and particles out, and let it sit out and ferment for two to three days.

You can also just use buttermilk as soon as you separate it from your butter fat, it will just taste more like milk than the more tart cultured buttermilk.

Can I just add lemon juice or vinegar to the leftover milk to make buttermilk?

You could and that&rsquos a good hack if you don&rsquot want to deal with culturing and all that. But it&rsquos not true buttermilk. True buttermilk goes through a chemical process and produces a different taste and a thicker texture.

When you culture your buttermilk, the fermentation process actually transforms lactose, or sugars found in the milk, into lactic acid. By the way, lactic acid is much easier to digest than lactose, which is appealing if you are lactose intolerant.

So if you&rsquore really after the authentic flavor and smooth, creamy texture of buttermilk, then culturing the milk leftover from making butter, is the way to go. Also if you are lactose intolerant, you may find that cultured buttermilk is easier on your stomach.

Okay, so remind me then how do I culture buttermilk?

You need to add the cultures back into the milk if you&rsquore using pasteurized heavy cream for this recipe. Or buttermilk can be made using raw milk which already contains live cultures.

However, it can be difficult to find raw dairy so you&rsquore only choice may be to use pasteurized heavy cream, and then add cultures back in. You can buy starter cultures for a variety of uses and follow the direction on the package in order to ferment your buttermilk!

Shop starter cultures on Amazon or purchase Kefir from your grocery store. You&rsquoll find it near the yogurt. You want the non-flavored Kefir. It&rsquos actually similar to yogurt but contains live cultures.

Bet you didn&rsquot know this was going to be so complicated.

Luckily making butter and buttermilk is not complicated, but understanding how it all work is pretty complex!

Recipe ideas using homemade butter and buttermilk.

Since homemade butter doesn&rsquot last as long as store bought, you&rsquoll want to use it up quick or freeze it in batches. Try making my chocolate buttercream frosting with homemade butter and see what you think!

It&rsquos also great for everyday cooking. Browse all my recipes to get ideas!

As far as the buttermilk, well you could make buttermilk pancakes. But that&rsquos kinda boring don&rsquot you think? Why not try using your buttermilk to make something a little different! Try my creamed roast beef with Yorkshire pudding? Or my loaded potato soup.

You may also like these popular recipes.

This recipe for butter and buttermilk was featured on Sew It Craft It Cook It and The Country Cook!

A (Frugal) Cheesecloth Alternative

However, now that my kitchen has been transformed into a real food workshop, I find myself needing all sorts of “weird” items.

Cheesecloth has many uses. Most commonly it’s used in various forms of cheesemaking (duh), but it also works great as a strainer for broth, jellies, or soft cheeses like yogurt or kefir cheese.

If you walk into your run-of-the-mill store asking for cheesecloth, the clerk will scratch his head and then most likely send you to the hardware department where they will point you to a poor, gauze-like, excuse for the stuff. Don’t be tempted, it doesn’t work! The “fabric” is flimsy and the holes are too big. It’s not really designed for kitchen use.

The other option is to find a high-end kitchen supply store, as they sometimes carry it. (But not Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Been there, done that…)

OR, my solution to this problem?

Go grab a package of diapers.

Wait a second. Crinkly, disposable diapers are probably the first thing that came to your mind, right?

You know, the cheapie ones that create a big, leaky mess if you use them on your baby? Well, they make horrible diapers, but perfect cheesecloth!

Really, all they are is a big ol’ linen-style napkin. They aren’t fuzzy, so you don’t have to worry about fabric bits ending up in your cheese.

But, if you do decide to go this route, make sure you buy a package specifically for kitchen use and mark them with a Sharpie.

Lemme say that one more time: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use these interchangeably on your baby and cheese.

Thankfully, I use the high-tech version of cloth dipers on Prairie Baby (look for a future post on that, by the way!), so I don’t have to worry about any confusion.

I’ve used this technique for all sorts of cheese projects, and it’s worked great. Maybe someday I’ll get around to ordering some real, official cheesecloth from Cultures for Health, but for now, I’m happy with my diapers!

How to Make Labne

You know how as soon as something comes into your awareness you begin to see it everywhere? That is how its been since I first saw a recipe using labne a few weeks ago. Now I see it all over Pinterest and even in some of my own cookbooks where it had eluded me until now, but better late than never right? I love it and I’ve been using it in anything I can.

Labne is a traditional Eastern Mediterranean food and I’m going to show you how easy it is to make. Greek yogurt is strained through muslin or cheesecloth to remove the excess whey so you are left with a creamy cheese that is able to withstand high cooking temperatures without curdling.

Most yogurt you buy today has live probiotic cultures and these have the potential to boost the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut while minimising the growth of pathogenic bacteria. The knock on benefits to your health include a stronger immune system with fewer coughs and colds and a healthier gut, but of course not all yogurt are created equal and you must check the ingredients list to avoid ones with added sugars, gums, thickeners or additives. Buy as natural as you can find and if you prefer to have it flavoured you can do so with natural ingredients like honey or berries.

You can strain it for 8 to 24 hours depending on the consistency you’re after. It can used as a dip, drizzled with a little olive oil and served with toasted pita breads or crackers and if strained for longer it can be rolled into balls and stored with olive oil in the fridge much like feta cheese and served with dishes like roast lamb or bean stews . I like to add some lemon zest to mine for a little extra zing.

Watch the video: Cheese cloth and update (January 2022).