With all the raw milk we picked up from Farmer X, Gail and I formulated a cheese making plan. We would attempt to make Queso Blanco, 30-Minute Mozzarella, Fromage Blanc, Whole Milk Ricotta, and maybe even some butter!
Below I am going to share the recipe for the Queso Blanco. For the rest of the cheeses I'm providing some pictures and commentary, but no recipes. I encourage anybody who is interested in beginning cheese making to visit Ricki Carroll's website where there are some great recipes, tips, books, DVDs , and all the rennet, cultures and supplies you will need to get started. A tip for beginners: The website sells a few different kits for basic cheese making and are a great starting point for beginners!
We decided to start with one of the most basic cheeses: Queso Blanco
The recipe is pretty simple:
1/2 gallon of milk
1/4 cup of vinegar
Heat milk to 185 F (stirring constantly to avoid scorching). When the temperature reaches 185 F slowly stir in the vinegar and raise the temperature to 200 F. As you raise it you will see the milk begin coagulating. At 200 F the milk should be completely curdled and you will be able to easily see the curds & whey separating. Pour the curds into a colander lined with butter muslin. and the butter muslin filled with curds for a few hours until it stops dripping. When it's done dripping cut the curds into cubes or slices.
The cheese looks just like tofu, but tastes so rich and sticks to your teeth when you chew it. Like tofu, this Queso Blanco takes on the taste of the spices it is cooked with, making it ideal for something like stir fry.
You can see the process in the below 5 photographs including the final product - Queso Blanco cubes tossed in garlic infused olive oil with rosemary!
(draining & hanging the curds)
(the final product!)
Next up we made a 30-minute Mozzarella.
Here are some pictures of the 30-minute Mozzarella process as well as the final product (which actually took closer to 45 minutes, but we are still beginners).
(draining the curds and testing to see if the Mozzarella is ready. it wasn't quite firm enough in this picture)
(final product: an 18-ounce ball of Mozzarella)
Next up was a whole milk ricotta. Another simple cheese: Citric Acid is the key to this one.
(Left: the curds being separated from the whey. Right: curds hanging and draining.)
Next up is fromagina, a wonderful combination of Fromage Blanc & Marscapone. This cheese was time consuming, but the time consuming part is in the wait. Once the milk is heated to proper temperature the culture is added and the milk is left to set at room temperature for 12-24 hours. After they set the curd is ladled into a colander lined with butter muslin and hung to dry for an additional 4-6 hours. Once dried to the correct consistency I added fresh chives from the garden to give this a nice spring feel:
Finally, Gail decided she would try her hand at making butter. She skimmed the cream off about a gallon or so of milk. If you look at the below photo you can see the cream has risen to the top of the milk, just at the bottom of the vertical lines on this plastic bottle:
(cream rises to the top in a bottle of raw milk)
She shook up the cream for a while by hand and separated some of the buttermilk off, after that she did most of the mixing with an electric mixer until she had a nice creamy consistency. At this point she separated out the remaining buttermilk and returned the whipped butter to a jar and briefly shook it until it solidified. She ended up producing about 5-6 0z of butter and nearly 12oz of buttermilk.
The first photo is of the clump of butter fresh from the jar perfectly formed. The second shows the startling difference in color between the butter and buttermilk!
All in all I would say our first attempt and cheese making has been a wild success!