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Easy cheese

easy cheeseThe easiest recipe to make can hardly be called a recipe.  Just about every culture has its own version of it.  It's just fresh milk and food acid.

Using lemon juice or vinegar is the most basic, about ¼ cup juice or vinegar to 2 litres of milk.  You may have to adjust the amount of acid you use, as acidity will vary.  Heat the milk slowly to 85C, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching.

When it has reach the correct temperature, remove from heat and stir in your curdling agent.  Immediately you should see small curds forming.  What you are looking for is something that resembles very small cottage cheese curds.  If you don't get this the first time, stir in a little more of whatever curdling agent you have chosen to use.

Strain through a dampened cheesecloth, muslin, clean cotton tea towel or something with a similar fine weave.  The reason for dampening is that the whey will drain out easily rather than splashing up in your face.

Hang the curds in the cloth to drain overnight, or up to about 24 hours.  This is a fun cheese to experiment with.  Our favourite curdling agent is apple cider vinegar, which leaves a very pleasant taste with the cheese.  This is one you can enjoy right away, sliced on crackers or a crusty loaf, or fried and served with a nice garlicky bruschetta.  It will keep well in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, stored in an airtight container.

Variations: have some fresh or dried herbs ready before you add your acid.  Basil and oregano are especially nice.  As you ladle out the curds, add a sprinkling of salt and herbs, so it will be layered up when it hangs.  You can also add things like chopped olives or jalapeño chillies, sundried tomatoes, the limit is your imagination.  Another nice thing about this cheese is you can fry it and it doesn't melt!  If you get really ambitious, you can invest in or make some cheese moulds, and drain it in different shapes.



Andrea Gauland has been milking goats and making goats' milk cheeses for eleven years and holds cheese making classes. See her website for more information.

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