Our family enjoys fresh home made cheese. I think making queso blanco (white cheese) or farmer’s cheese is one of the easiest cheeses to make.
What you need:
1/2 gallon of homogenized whole milk (as of this time, I have not tried raw milk or goats milk…but I will in the near future I hope)
1/2 cup vinegar, apple cider vinegar, OR lemon juice (I like to use apple cider vinegar but have used the others as well)
Pot large enough to accommodate the milk (plus extra room to avoid boil over)
flat bottom spoon (I prefer wooden to metal)
cheese cloth or clean white pillow case
Heat milk to a rolling boil stirring constantly. You just want to gently stir enough that nothing sticks to the bottom or no skin forms on top. Let the milk boil for about a minute. Remember to watch your milk. It can go from a gentle boil to a boil over in the blink of an eye.
Remove from heat and add the vinegar.
You should immediately notice small curds forming.
Give it a good stir and let sit for 10 minutes. By then, you will notice much larger curds and how they have separated from the whey (the nursery rhyme Little Miss Muffet usually comes to mind about right now)
While the milk is resting, prepare your strainer and cheese cloth (or pillow case).
Pour the mixture into the strainer to completely separate the curds and the whey.
Let drain for an hour or so to get the liquid out of the cheese. How dry you get it totally depends on your taste. For a good “crumble” texture, I let it drain for an hour (or more depending on how humid or damp the weather is) and then give it a good squeeze. If I want a creamier texture, I won’t drain it quite as long, but still give it a good squeeze before putting it in the food processor to make it into a cream cheese consistency.
How you spice it up totally depends on you at this point. We’ve eaten it with just a pinch of salt on a tomato and cucumber salad, we’ve added strawberry jam and made cream cheese, and we’ve even added chopped garlic, chives, and onion powder for a dip. Last night, however, we ate it with tacos, so I added a pinch of taco mix to kick it up just a bit. Yum.
And don’t throw away the whey. Keep it. Put it in a container in the frig, clearly marked (lest your favorite someone comes home from work late one night and thinks you made fresh lemonade).
Use your whey in recipes that call for milk or water (or both). I use the whey in my whole wheat bread instead of water and milk as the recipe calls for. You can use it in soups or casseroles as well.
Let me know how your cheese turns out if you make some.