Monday, April 30, 2012
DIY cheesemaking - making queso blanco
As promised, I did try my hand at some basic cheese making. The cheese I finally selected was Queso Blanco. If you're an aficionado of Mexican cuisine you've probably had this cheese before. It will often show up in various dishes. It's a fresh soft cheese that will be white and somewhat curdly in texture. It's also one of the few cheeses you can make at home without any fancy extra cheese making ingredients.
I was very very lucky to have on hand some fresh raw milk from some friends who recently added a dairy cow, Robin, to their homestead. To make my Queso Blanco I used approximately one gallon of that fresh raw milk and 1/2 cup of lime juice. I wish I could say that I used fresh lime juice, but alas, I do not have access to any lime trees here in Wisconsin. I used the sort that you get in those little green bottles at the supermarket.
The first step in making your own Queso Blanco is to pour your milk into a non-reactive pot. I used a small enamel canning pot.
Then I turned the heat on the stove top to medium (on our stove that's a 4). While the milk was beginning to warm up I also set up a colander over a bowl to use later on in the draining part of the project.
I then cut off a swatch of muslin fabric and lined the colander. This is used to help further drain your cheese and you need the fabric to be long enough to hang over the edges so that you can eventually wrap your cheese up and hang it to drain.
I returned to the pot of warming milk and stirred...and stirred...and stirred. It's important that you stay with the milk and keep stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom of your pan. Oh, I also should note that I used a wooden spoon. Again, you want to stay away from any utensils that would be reactive metals. I continuing to heat the milk and stir until it was just below the boiling point. I used a candy thermometer to measure the temp of the milk. You ideally want your milk to be between 185F and 200F. Once the milk came up to temp I added the lime juice. This was poured in slowly and I kept stirring the milk as I poured. When the curds began to separate from the whey I continued to stir and finally when they seemed finished I turned off the heat and removed the pot. I poured the curds and whey into the muslin lined colander.
I lifted the edges of the muslin and tried to let as much of the whey drain as I could. Then I took some baker's twine and tied up those edges of muslin to form a little bag of cheese curds. I took the end of the twine and tied the bag up on a shelf support in our kitchen with a bowl below to catch any whey that will drain out.
As the curds began to cool off I continued to squeeze the bag from time to time to help the whey to come out. When the cheese was finished draining it was removed from the bag and refrigerated.
Since I'm still doing the Whole 30 I didn't taste the cheese, but I'll update this post when I have The Hubster do a taste test for us. :)
ETA - The Hubster did taste test it for me and he declared it okay, but that it needed more salt. The recipe didn't call for any salt, but I did add in about 1 tsp of salt when I made it. I have some cheese salt ordered and with the next batch I think I'll try to make it when he's around so he can taste some of the salted curd to give an opinion before we finish draining the cheese.
- A 40 something mama meandering through life with an eclectic 21 year old boy-man (the boy), an 8 year old girl (big girl) who is a ball of lightening, and a 4 year old girl (baby girl) who brightens our lives with her smiles. I'm grounded by my 40 something husband and partner (the hubster) whose quirky mannerisms brighten my days.
I've been a single mama, married mama, divorced mama, career mama, SAHM, and WAHM. There was a short time of my life when I wasn't a mama, but that was a LONG time ago!
I hold an AA, BS, and MA and most say I'm wasting them by devoting my intellectual capabilities and energy in the nurture of the wee ones that I've been entrusted to raise, but there is nothing else I'd rather be doing these days. :)
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