I know I said Ricotta is the “gateway cheese” but this follows close behind. This is cheese at it’s simplest. Milk, acid, and some salt for flavoring. If you want an impressive appetizer, nothing beats lemon or citrus cheese with some crackers. You could use it to make something more involved, but honestly if you make homemade cheese you should let it shine in it’s most pure and simple form.
Queso Blanco is refreshing with spicy foods, and the perfect pairing to Mexican food.
Now, enough chit chat, GO MAKE CHEESE!!!!
Before you start, read this post about choosing milk for cheesemaking, and about equipment here.
FRESH FARMER STYLE CHEESE
makes approx. 1 lb
1/2 gallon whole milk, NOT ultra-pasteurized
1/4 cup acid* (see note at bottom of recipe)
kosher salt to taste (start with about 1/2 tsp)
Prepare your strainer. Line a large stainless or enamel colander with butter muslin or nut milk bag in a clean sink. (or line a mold with butter muslin, pictures later on for those directions)
Pour milk and into a heavy bottomed pot. (Stainless steel or nonreactive)
Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until milk reaches 200 degrees F.
You’ll know you’re getting close when the milk gets foamy. Don’t let it boil though, as the cheese won’t taste quite as good.
Turn off the heat and add whichever acid you have chosen. Stir very gently just to combine. If you don’t see the curds separate add more acid, 1 T at a time. Stir gently for 2 minutes. This helps the curds release more whey.
Use a slotted spoon to gently scoop the curds into the prepared lined strainer. If you aren’t sure if you got all the curds, strain the whey to the side of the curds. You just made cheese! Yay!
Sprinkle salt and any other seasonings and fold in.
For a creamier cheese you can mix in a tablespoon or 2 of heavy cream.
Let drain for a few minutes, then lightly squeeze the muslin to release more whey. Or for a dryer cheese, tie the corners of the muslin in a knot and hang from a cabinet knob or banana tree (with a bowl underneath to catch drips) and drain for 1 hour.
If you want to press the cheese into a mold, gather up the ends of the butter muslin and put the bundle of curds into a cheese mold.
Place a weight on top and leave for 1 hour.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days
NOTE ABOUT CHOOSING AN ACID:.
To achieve coagulation (the separation of curds and whey) you need an acid. The flavor of cheese you’ll have depends on the type of acid you’ll use. Citrus juices will leave more of an citrus aftertaste, vinegar will have a cleaner more neutral flavor.
Use lemon juice (Can add zest for more flavor too)
Use a mixture of citrus juices, such as lemon and orange. Just remember some citrus juices are less acidic than others, and may not be able to achieve coagulation. For this reason I recommend using at least half lemon juice. You can always add extra citrus juice for more flavor. Adding zest will add the most flavor as well.
Use apple cider or white distilled vinegar. This is a nice mild cheese excellent for crumbling into Mexican dishes.