Hanging sheets on the line makes me feel the most domesticated, but making cheese is a close second : )
If you never made cheese because you’re intimidated, I’m here to calm your fears. I would never try to make this if it wasn’t quick and easy (I’m sure you’ve picked up on the theme of all the recipes I share). I promise you’ll be rewarded with the most delicate and smooth tasting fresh cheese, plus you’ll have the satisfaction of producing it in your own kitchen. I always feel a little sad when we cut into it, because it’s so beautiful!
The children love the whole process because it’s magic. Really. To make it even more fun, my friend came and we made it together. She’s much more confident than I am, so I listen closely to pick up on any hints I may be missing. Truly, she’s taught me the science. This farmhouse cheese is pretty fool proof. It requires no special cultures, nor molds, nor aging. You only need cheesecloth and rennet which I just order.
First begin my warming 1 gallon of whole milk and stirring constantly. You’ll want to feel it with your finger and maybe test it with a thermometer to 100 F. Turn the heat off. It’s good to know what it feels like and not need a thermometer. The milk should definitely not be boiling.
Crush a rennet tablet and dissolve in a touch of warm water or the warmed milk from the pot. Stir it into the gallon of milk. Curds will begin to form pretty quickly, but allow it all to sit (uncovered) for 1 hour. No need to stir it (don’t want to break it up yet).
Cut across the curds making a lattice pattern. Allow it to sit for 15 to 30 minutes after cutting.
Then begin to scoop the separated milk into a strainer (maybe just sitting in the sink for draining), lined with cheesecloth, a thin dishtowel (like muslin), or an old undershirt (coffee filter or nice paper towel works too, but this recipe makes a bigger batch). Scoop as many curds (clumps) as you can leaving the whey (liquid) behind.
Allow it to strain until it’s not dripping so much. Add a couple pinches of salt to taste and stir it right in the cheesecloth with a spoon careful as to not break up the curds too much. Then give it a few squeezes through the cheesecloth to encourage faster draining. Gather the cheesecloth and press the curds into a hockey puck shape (round and flat). Cover it with it’s cheesecloth and put some weight on it – a saucer and a large can of tomatoes. Allow it to become firmer for 2 – 4 hours as it drains some more.
When you refrigerate it, it will become even a little firmer. The cheese will stay fresh in the fridge for a week, but we eat it the next day. Delicious with drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of course salt!
with love. Damaris