11.04.2013

Making Cheese - Homemade Queso Fresco

There isn't much exciting about standing over a pot of milk that is slowly coming to a specific temperature over a period of time but once other ingredients start to get added and the milk and it starts to thicken and separate from the whey, it's hard to contain the excitement. I've just made fresh cheese.

My first batch of homemade Queso Fresco
I'm starting off slowly and really trying to get an understanding of the basics. So far, I've made a batch of ricotta, so creamy and smooth yet bearing such a strong milky flavor that generic store bought ricottas just don't have. We found ourselves making any excuse to slather a healthy dose of it onto good, crusty bread and we used it in sandwiches or dotted it on homemade pizza and baked it until it had developed a nice golden brown exterior and warm, gooey center.


This past weekend, I stepped up my game a little more and made some Queso Fresco. Some of the same techniques that I had learned in making the ricotta were still used (as is the case with most cheeses) but I got to play around with some common cheese making ingredients such as liquid rennet and some other ingredients that give certain cheeses their distinctive characteristics. There was a lot more to it and it also took twice the amount of time it took to make the ricotta and half of that time seemed like nothing was happening. I had just started feeling guilty about the potential of having to toss two gallons of milk down the drain when it all just came together and I had perfectly firm curds that had formed. It was such a rush! I had just made cheese and I felt so proud of it I was beaming. The cheese came out just as I hoped it would - firm curds so purely white and that slightly squeaked with each bite. It was deeply flavorful with that intense milky flavor that I'm learning fast, only homemade cheese can provide. I used the queso fresco to dust on top of some homemade enchiladas and am now brainstorming other uses besides the obvious Mexican fare to utilize my almost three lbs (!!) of cheese. I'm thinking a fun version of poutine may be in order..


I'm so hooked on making cheese and am diving in full speed. I've got a nightstand full of a stack of books on cheeses and last night I was up studying milk and am hoping to source different milks from various local farms and I'm looking forward to advancing my cheese making to include aged cheeses. I'll be sure to keep you posted on how things are going!

1 comment:

Louise said...

It sounds like you are having a great time.
Cheers
Louise

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