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Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

I made cheese!

You are probably really amazed and impressed right now, and if not you should be, jerk.  But honestly cheese making is pretty simple (for this kind of cheese at least) and also pretty cheap!  We went to a cheese making class at a local cheese and wine making shop, where we also bought supplies (http://www.curdsandwine.com/), I am pretty sure you can find your own local source via google.

What you will need:

  • a gallon of whole milk: about $3
  • one packet of fromage blanc starter (basically the rennet and bacteria): $5.95 for five packets, so about $1.25
  • cheese salt (or non iodized sea salt, very fine) (cheese salt can probably be purchased where you get your starter):  $2.95 for 8 ounces, of which you will use 2 teaspoons

  • cheese cloth:  ours was $5.95, but can be used over and over
  • a big ol’ pot, preferably with it’s own strainer (you know like the ones that come with a steamer or whatever, but you never use?)
  • a kitchen thermometer
  • herbs (optional)

You will be so stunned at how easy this is.  It takes at least 24 hours, but it’s so simple!

First get your big ol’ pot (make sure it’s bigger than a gallon), and dump the gallon of whole milk in.  Heat very slowly to 86 degrees.  This should take around 45 minutes.  On my gas stove, it took almost 45 mins exactly on the lowest possible burner setting.  We basically just set a timer for 35 minutes and started checking the temperature to make sure we were on the right track.  Then all you need to do is sprinkle the contents of the starter packet in the milk, then stir gently in an up and down motion for one minute.

Adding starter

And thennnnn, you wait.  For at 12 hours.  I told you it took a long time!  Just cover the pot and let ‘er chill for 12 hours.  We just left ours on the stove.  Make sure you don’t have to get up at 230AM for the next step like we* did – be better planners.  *and by we I mean BF 🙂

After 12 hours, get out the cheese cloth and you may need to get inventive with this one.  Basically the soon-to-be-cheese needs to hang in the cheese cloth for another 6 – 12 hours (longer = dryer, harder cheese).  So once you have the cheese in the cloth, tie a knot at the top and hang it somewhere, over a sink, or a pot (if you save the drippings or whey – ricotta can be made).  We heard a few tips like fashioning a hanger with a metal clothes hanger over the sink from a cabinet, which seems pretty good.  Luckily my big mama All Clad is a giant and big enough to just let it hang, tied to a wooden spoon placed over the top.Binder clips are so awesome, by the way.  So now you wait… again.  We waited for 9 – 10 hours, and still got a very soft, moist cheese.  The consistency is somewhere between cream cheese and goat cheese.

Only one more step!  After the whey has drained, take the cheese out of the cheese cloth (which can totally be cleaned and reused) and transfer to a bowl.  Stir in the cheese salt and herbs (if you are going that route), then pop in the fridge for a few hours.  We chose to do half plain and half with garlic and herbs.  I think I much prefer the herb version, but if you were going to cook with it, you would want some plain cheese.  That’s it!

Here is what the cheese will look like when you unwrap the cheese cloth: And here is the end result (with garlic and Italian herb seasoning).  Might I add that it’s seriously freaking delicious.

homemade fromage blanc with garlic and herbs

Also, you will get a lot of cheese, like 5 or 6 cups of it, and it will probably stay good for 2 – 3 weeks.  I am going to try and freeze some, which I am sure will be fine, since I have frozen just about every other type of cheese or dairy product without problem.  And don’t forget to make ricotta from the whey (post on that coming next time we make cheese, the way we made the ricotta this time was ridiculous and frustrating).

Here is a really easy, but impressive idea to use some of this delicious fromage blanc:  cheesy bruschetta!  Only I hate tomatoes, so I used cucumbers. 

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