Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Easy Cheese Recipes

I have been asked by many people for my cheese recipes, so I figured I would put them all in one handy blog post. So, here it goes.

Quick & Easy Vinegar Cheese
Yeah, the title might sound gross, but this cheese is basically a quick untraditional way to make ricotta.

1 gallon milk
1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice

Heat your milk to 180 degrees F, this is just below the boiling point. Add 1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice. Stir well. The cheese will separate. Remove from heat and let sit for about 10 minutes. Pour through a cheesecloth. You can season the cheese now, use it plain, use it right away, freeze it or do whatever.

Mozzarella Cheese (originally from here)

2 gallons milk
3 tsp citric acid powder
1/2 tsp liquid rennet
1/8 tsp lipase (that is plenty)
1/2 cup cool water
1/4 cup warm water

1) Dissolve citric acid powder in 1/4 cup cool water, add to milk, stir well.
2) Dissolve lipase in 1/4 cup warm water, add to milk, stir well.
3) Slowly warm milk, on low, to 90*F. Stir occasionally.
4) Dilute rennet in 1/4 cup cool water, add to milk, stir well.
5) Turn heat off and allow milk to set for 15 minutes to achieve a clean break.
6) Cut into 1 inch curds, set in a 105*F water bath for 10 minutes (it is okay for the curds to mat together some).
7) Drain curds into a colander, kneading lightly to express whey (start heating whey now if you are making ricotta). Break curd apart and add 2 tsp salt, knead lightly.
8) Place the curd into a microwavable and cook on high for 1 minute. Knead to express whey.
9) Cook on high heat again for 1 minute, cheese will be very hot and there won't be much whey this time. The cheese will begin to stretch.
10) Stretch and fold cheese a few times then fold into a ball. Rinse in cold water. Place in a small bowl to mold and refrigerate.

Cheese will last 2 weeks in the refrigerator or can be frozen.

Traditional Ricotta

To make traditional ricotta, take the whey from the mozzarella cheese you just made. Heat on medium till it reaches about 200*F or until the cheese separates. Let cool for about 15 minutes, strain through cheesecloth.

Mild Feta Cheese (originally from here)

1 gallon milk
1/4 teaspoon Mesophilic-A direct-set culture
1/4 tsp. rennet dissolved in cool water
3-4 Tablespoons coarse salt (You can use table salt, but use less)

1) Warm milk in a pot to 86*F and stir in culture. Cover pot. Let sit one hour to ripen.

2) Stir dissolved rennet into milk. Cover pot and allow to sit one hour more to coagulate. Don't stir or disturb. The milk will become a solid mass.

3) Cut the curd into 1/2 inch cubes. Allow to rest 5 minutes to expel the whey. Stir gently every few minutes for 15 minutes keeping.

4) Line a colander with cheesecloth or butter muslin (I use plyban cloth - a plastic, re-useable cheesecloth) and set inside a big bowl if you want to save the whey. Drain the curds. Tie the four corners of the cloth together and hang to drain for 4-6 hours. The curds will form a ball.

5) Slice the ball in half and lay the slabs of cheese in a glass baking dish. Sprinkle all the surfaces with 3-4 Tablespoons of coarse salt. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temp for 24 hours.

6) After 24 hours pour off the whey, salt all the surfaces and let sit 2 more hours. Remove cheese from dish and quickly rinse under cool water to remove all the salt. Place cheese in a covered dish and refrigerate. Use immediately or allow to age 5-7 days to sharpen the flavor. Use within two weeks or freeze for future use.

Cream Cheese (originally from here)

1 gallon goat milk (store bought cows milk will work too!)
¼ tsp direct set Mesophilic-M culture
2 TBS diluted rennet (add 1 drop of rennet to 5 TBS cool water)

1) In a large pot add milk.  Heat your milk to 80 degrees.  
2) Remove from heat and add the mesophilic-m culture and stir will.  
3) Add the rennet and stir.  Cover the pan and let sit undisturbed at room temp for 12 to 18 hours. 

After your time is up what you have in the pot should look like very thick yogurt.  Now you will drain and drip your cheese. 

4) Line a colander with your cheesecloth or clean pillow case (I use plyban cloth).  Set this colander in a large bowl to catch the whey.  Drain your cheese.  Gather up the cloth and tie it tightly.
5) Hang your cheese to drip for about 6-8 hours.

When it is completed what you have left in the pillow case is your cream cheese!  You can salt it a bit or not, or add vanilla & a little sugar for a sweeter cream cheese.  It is ready to be used right away over a homemade bagel or you can use it for cooking. The whey can be used in baking.

Well, those are my favorite and most used recipes around here. This year I plan to expand into cheddar and the like... we'll see!