Thursday, August 27, 2009

The little cheese that lost its whey...

As per Jeff's suggestion, here's an amazingly quick and easy way to make your own cheese. It's most like a Ricotta or Feta, depending on whether you're happy with the finished product as-is, or if you decide to BAM! - kick it up a notch with some briny goodness.
Anyway, this type of cheese is so easy to make, you'll wonder why everyone doesn't do it from time to time. Well, I'll tell you, it's not really cheap. You use up about 1 1/3 litres of milk, and you get about 120ml of cheese... No wonder cheese is so expensive!
So our ingredients list today:

  • 1 1/3 litres of milk. This is easy to portion out here in Canada if you buy milk by the bag. It works out to one bag.
  • 2 tablespoons of white vinegar.
Pour the milk into a saucepan, and heat on high until you get it just boiling. Beware, milk is fussy and will burn in a flash if you aren't watching it carefully.
I kept stirring it every minute or two, and keeping an eye on the temperature with a cooking thermometer I bought for my little projects around the homestead. It's not necessary for you to have a thermometer if you can tell when your milk has just started to boil by the bubbles it will form.
Turn off the heat, add your vinegar, and stir it up really thoroughly. The milk will start to curdle in just a minute or two. Make sure you stir it up well, then cover, and let it stand for about 15 minutes.
Pour the contents of the saucepan into a colander that has been lined with either cheesecloth, or something with a fairly tight weave. I opted to switch to a serviette that we had handy, as I worried that my cheesecloth would be too porous.
Squeeze out as much of the whey as possible, leaving behind your curds. I put the cloth "bag of cheese" between two dinner plates, held them up over the sink, and then squeezed as hard as I could.
Unwrap your cheese, and enjoy!
I think I will experiment with different flavours in the future. For this particular run at things, I just used organic (that is to say - EXPENSIVE) skim milk. In the future, I might switch to regular milk, and perhaps even some full-fat milk to see how it affects the texture and taste. Maybe someone braver than I will try to make chocolate cheese with chocolate milk ;). Hmmm...

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