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Sunday, 27 April 2008

SUCCESS!!!!! (That positive tone is for you - Jodi)

Tonight, I made cheese. Yes, that is right, I made my own cheese. It is an officially recognized cheese - even though it is one of the simplest of all the cheeses to make. It really was simple really. Though, even a simple cheese can be complicated if even the smallest details are missed. After numerous attempts at Mozzarella (which I may have gotten to the bottom of why that wasn't working), I decided to try an easy cheese - Queso Blanco, and there was much success. I will write out the recipe, just in case any of you want to try it yourself at home, and put in my 2 cents as to what I did, with pics....

First off, you need to start with Sterilizing all of your equipment. It's really important, when dealing with dairy in particular to keep your work area clean and to reduce the risk of pathogens getting into your cheese. Dairy is so delicate you know - in the making. I pulled back my hair too because hair in cheese is just wrong. Earlier in the week, I found "The Big Pot" at Winners for cheap, and decided to buy that to make my gallon of cheese this week-end. In the process of sterilizing it, and sterilizing my cheesecloth as well as my thermometer, I discovered that my thermometer is between 5 and 10 degrees off because it started boiling somewhere between 90-95 degrees Celsius. That may be where I went wrong with the Mozzarella, and before I try again, I'm going to get a proper Dairy Thermometer (for which I will hunt) Anyway, "The Big Pot" turned out to be too big...


I could have fit 2 Gallons in there, and probably will do 2 next time...


Ah well, anyway, here is the info in the book re: Queso Blanco with recipe...

Queso Blanco is a simple Latin American cheese popular in many Latin dishes, especially Mexican. It's name translates to "white cheese." It is a crumbly, moist cheese that acts quite like Cheddar for cooking. It's flavor is mild, almost bland and slightly sweet. Queso Blanco is the original Monterey Jack cheese. The massed produced Monterey Jack cheeses that most people are used to are more bland and rubbery than this original cheese. The name Jack cheese came from David Jacks, a Scotsman (always a scot - this is me, Becky speaking, I'll do this from time to time while typing out the recipe and you'll know it's me because of the italics ;-) who was given credit for the cheese. However, the original Jack cheese, Queso Blanco can trace its roots farther back to Spanish Franciscan monks originally from Mexico.

Ingredients: 1 Gallon of whole Goat's or Cow's Milk, and 1/4 Cup of Cider Vinegar

Heating: No Double Boiler is needed for this cheese. Heat the milk slowly on direct heat, stirring it frequently to prevent burning. Using a medium-low heat, stir and heat until the milk reaches a temperature of 180 degrees Farenheit. (this takes flipping forever and especially so when you are using an entire Gallon) Maintain the 180 degrees temperature for several minutes.


Acid Coagulation: After the 180 degrees Farenheit temperature has been held for 10 minutes, slowly stir in the cider vinegar until the milk solidifies and small curds start to form. (I admit, I was a little impatient due to disappointment in the past, and added a touch more cider vinegar than the recipe calls for)



Draining: Remove the pot from the heat. Drain the curds by pouring the whole mixture through a colander lined with cheesecloth to keep the curds from escaping.


Tie a knot with the corners of the cheesecloth to form a bag of curds. Hang the bag over a pot for draining. The bag can be hung from a hook, or you may use chopsticks or spoons pushed through the knot to hold the bag on the sides of a pot to drain. (I chose to use a rolling pin) Let the bag drain for 3-4 hours, until the bag stops dripping.


Storing: Open the bag and remove the solid mass of curds. They can be wrapped in a plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This cheese can be eaten immediately, or stored for up to a week in the refrigerator. (I chose to use a ceramic bowl - you know my feelings about plastic)


So, the cheese itself, I like it - it is bland and slightly sweet (which is how it's supposed to be apparently), but I feel it could have used a touch of salt. Overall, I'm really impressed with the texture, the taste, and the easiness of Queso Blanco. You can see for yourself, I am very satisfied with the results of this cheese-making experiment...


Co-workers, be prepared to taste my cheese this week!!!!!!!!

1 comment:

Jodi said...

Yipee! I'm so excited that it worked. What did you figure out was stopping the mozzarella from working?