Making Curds and Whey

Making Curds and Whey

I’ve always been a lover of cheese… every kind of cheese. From the stinky stuff in French restaurants to the most mild mozzarella. I found this recipe recently to make cheese at home and knew I had to try it. I didn’t even know you could make cheese at home with such simple ingredients. All you need for this recipe is buttermilk, milk and salt, no chemicals, rennet or anything else. I used organic whole milk, but you can also make it with 1% or 2%. So easy and amazingly delicious. To fancy it up, I browned the cheese in a dry non-stick pan and it made a perfect appetizer. It is also just as yummy eaten plain.

The recipe said salt was an optional item , but I think it is really necessary. I only added a generous pinch of fleur de sel and it was extremely bland before brining. It was fine after brining, but the exterior is definitely saltier than the interior when you brine. The texture is similar to Queso Blanco. It has a nice bite and mild flavor. Next time I’m going to experiment with some smoked sea salt and maybe even herbs. It was so easy, I see myself making fresh cheese at home on a regular basis.

Fresh Brined Cheese Recipe
(Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman)

1/2 gallon milk (1%, 2% or whole)
1 quart buttermilk

1. Bring the milk to a boil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat. Stir often to keep from scorching, until the milk bubbles up the sides of the pot, 10-15 minutes.

2. Line a strainer with 3 layers of cheesecloth. Have a long piece of twine ready.

3. Add the buttermilk to the boiling milk all at once and stir constantly until the mixture separates into curds and whey. It will look like cooked egg whites suspended in a slightly thick yellowish liquid. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 to 1 tsp salt.

4. Carefully pour the mixture through the cloth and strainer so that the curds collect in the bottom and the whey drains off. Gather up the corners of the cloth and twist the top to start working the curds into a ball. Run the bundle under cold water until you can handle it. Keep twisting and squeezing out the whey until the bundle feels firm and dry. Don’t worry about handling it roughly, it can take it.

5. Tie the string around the top to hold it tight, then tie the string around a long spoon to suspend the cheese over the sink or a bowl to drain. Let it rest, undisturbed until cool and set, about 1 1/2 hours.

6. While the cheese is resting, bring 2 c water to a boil and add 2 tbsp salt. Stir to dissolve the salt. Let sit until completely cooled. Remove the cheese from the cheesecloth and submerge in the brine. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours. I prefer to rinse the cheese under cool water before eating as the outer part tends to taste salty.

Makes about 1 pound cheese