Two Simple Cheeses
Here is a recipe for making two different cheeses in one day! I was running low on home made cheese because we'd been so busy this past year.
Well, it was almost becoming a cheese emergency for me. I had made several cheeses the previous year that were aging well and so I had cheese, even new cheeses as they aged and ripened. But then I realized I was actually running out. Ugh! Cheese needs time, I don't have time! I'm running out of home made cheese!
I wanted a cheese with some maturity to it that I could actually slice. Something for a cheese tray or charcuterie.
Then I started looking through some past cheese recipes I had made and found one that I liked for a fast cheese but also one that used a culture and rennet. One that was pressed and aged just briefly. It was for Queso Fresco.
I started early in the morning so I had plenty of time to do a cheese with some ripening and pressing time. I decided to add a few steps to the recipe I had for Queso Fresco, giving it some time to develop a more complex character.
I also decided to add some extra flavors to half of the cheese. Since I was going to need to use two one pound molds to press the cheese, why not make two different cheeses?
This recipe can be made without adding the seasonings and will still be closest to a Queso Fresco. Do not omit the salt.
The recipe is the same for both cheeses until the draining of the whey in step 9. The first 1/2 of the curds are drained in a cheese cloth lined colander, salted and then put into a cheese mold.
Next, the second half of the curds are drained in the colander and seasoned with salt, garlic, onion and thyme leaves. Then put into another cheese mold.
The two cheeses are then pressed at the same time, One atop the other. The unseasoned cheese should always remain on the top of the pressing stack.
Keep the seasoned cheese on the bottom so that it doesn't contaminate the more plain cheese with it's flavors as the whey drains from it during the pressing process.
The cheeses are pressed for two short intervals of 30 minutes at 8 pounds of pressure to bring them together tightly enough to be removed from the cheese cloth for the final pressing. The final pressing is what will make this cheese come together solidly and it will give it some aging time at room temperature as well.
The cheesecloth is removed and re-wrapped around the cheese when it is flipped between pressings to help to smooth the lines creating a nearly smooth surface on the cheeses.
Click through the photos for a better look at the process.
I am very pleased with the way these cheeses turned out. They were quick to make (for a cheese recipe) and I didn't have to wait months for a product. But really, they were super tasty!
I also made two very different cheeses in one processing. Cheese making is such a lengthy process that getting a two-fer is pretty cool.
This is a good beginning cheese recipe, for those moving beyond 30 minute mozzarella and queso blanco, especially if you make only the salted cheese. Even more so if you have a 2 pound cheese mold and make only one 2 pound cheese.
After watching the aging process of this cheese over a one month period in the refrigerator, I believe this cheese in either form would age well in wax at 55 degrees. Why not have one cheese now and save one for later?
Queso Fresco 2 Ways
(Makes two different 1 pound cheeses)
By Melisa Smith
2 gallons whole milk not ultra pasteurized
1 packet direct-set mesophilic culture
1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet, dissolved in 1/4 cup cool non-chlorinated water
1/2 teaspoon calcium chloride dissolved in 1/2 cup cool non-chlorinated water
2 tablespoons Cheese salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 tablespoon dehydrated minced onion
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
Sanitize all equipment and work space.
1. Heat the milk to 90°F.
2. Add 1/2 teaspoon calcium chloride dissolved in 1/2 cup cool non-chlorinated water, stirring constantly for 1 minute with an up-and-down motion.
3. Add mesophilic culture. Sprinkle it on the top of the milk and allow it to re-hydrate for 1 minute before stirring constantly for 1 minute with an up-and-down motion.
4. Remove the milk from the heat and add the dissolved rennet, and incorporate with an up and-down motion for about 30 seconds.
5. Cover and let it set undisturbed for about 60 - 90 minutes, or until you have a clean break.
6. Cut the curd into 1/4-inch cubes.
7. Over medium-low heat, bring the temperature of the curds and whey to 95°F. Raise the heat gradually. It should take between 15 and 20 minutes. Keep stirring gently to prevent your curds from sticking together (matting).
8. Once the curds have reached the proper temperature, let them set for 5 minutes, undisturbed.
9. Pour half of the curds into a colander lined with cheese cloth, draining off the whey. Reserve the whey for a later use if you like by putting a bowl beneath the colander.
10. Add 1 tablespoon of cheese salt to the colander and mix it into the curds.
11. Move the cheese cloth full of salted curds to a 1 pound cheese mold topped with the follower and set aside in a warm sanitary place.
12. Pour the rest of the curds into the colander lined with another piece of cheese cloth, draining off the whey. Reserve the whey for a later use if you like by putting a bowl beneath the colander.
13. Add 1 tablespoon of cheese salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 3/4 tablespoon dehydrated minced onion and 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves to the colander. Gently mix the seasonings into the curds.
14. Place the cheese molds one on top of the other into a cheese press. Place the seasoned cheese on the bottom at all times so that it does not drain whey onto the other cheese.
The unseasoned cheese should always be on the top through the pressing process.
15. Press both cheeses at 8 pounds of pressure for 30 minutes.
16. Flip the cheeses and re-wrap, then press at 8 pounds for another 30 minutes.
17. Remove the cheese cloth, flip the cheese and press again for 5 to 6 hours or overnight at 35 pounds.
18. Remove the cheeses from the molds and put them into a covered container in the refrigerator.
This cheese will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks and is suitable for aging in wax at 55 degrees for up to 6 months. Watch for dark spots developing under the wax. If mold develops, open the cheese, cut away the mold and eat right away or clean the cheese with a salt water brine or vinegar diluted by half and re-wax for further aging.