I've been traveling a lot and incredibly busy with school and work. And it's really interfering with my kitchen time. I've felt kind of blah about the things I've been making and I really needed a pick me up.
And last night I found it.
Homemade cheese was the answer.
I nervously stood within 5 feet of the milk to make sure it didn't get too hot (for 45 minutes...not a waste of time right?) and then poured in the vinegar and paced the kitchen for 8 minutes praying that it would actually curdle. But then there were the tears of joy that started streaming when I went to stir and found beautiful curds (hate that word) swimming around. Tears pre-taste test is an automatic win.
Who knew a half gallon of milk, some vinegar, and a bit of salt could put such a shining smile on my face?
After I sprinkled it with a bit of salt and tested it out I decided I needed to go a step further. But not because it wasn't delicious. Because I was excited. And didn't want the process to end.
So I marinated the baby cheese in olive oil and herbs.
And...Oh...My...Goodness. You can't understand until you make it yourself.
So do that.
Makes: approximately 3/4 lb cheese
Cook Time: 45 minutes + 8 minutes for curdling
Strain Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 8 minutes
1/2 gallon whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
1/6 cup apple cider or white vinegar
- Pour milk into a large nonreactive pot and set over low to medium-low heat. Heat milk to 170-175°F stirring every so often. This could take 45 minutes + but don't rush it! If you don't have a thermometer to test the temperature every so often you can tell the milk is ready when little bubbles start to form on the sides of the pot and the top has a glossy but unbroken layer. When it reaches this point remove from heat and add vinegar. Let sit for 5-8 minutes to allow the curds to separate from the whey.
- Meanwhile grab your cheesecloth. Make layers of 14 inch squares. For a drier cheese use 2 layers and for a softer cheese use 6 layers. I went for in the middle and used 4. Place these layers in a strainer.
- After 8 minutes, spoon curds into cheesecloth over the strainer and push down lightly with the spoon to release some of the whey. After all of the cheese is in the cloth, pull the top of the cloth together and tie in a knot. Tie this to a wooden spoon and place over a pot to drain for 10-15 minutes. The longer you let it drain the drier it will be.
- Remove from cloth and add kosher salt to taste.
- Add herbs (recipe below) or keep it as is.
- Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
1/2 - 3/4 lb homemade cheese
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, minced
2 teaspoons fresh mint, minced
2 teaspoons shallot, finely minced
1 teaspoon fresh chives, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
- Mix everything in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.