Sunday, January 1, 2012
January Cheese Challenge - Nothing but Curdled Milk
All of these cheeses use an acid to curdle the milk. There is no need to add cultures to make these cheeses.
Paneer is a traditional Indian cheese made with whole milk, lemon juice or vinegar.
Ricotta, which is traditionally made from the whey left over from making hard cheeses, can also be made with whole milk. Again, you use vinegar or lemon juice to curdle the milk.
Yogurt Cheese is simply that - cheese made from yogurt. It's also called Lebanah and is common in the Middle East and Greece. You simply strain plain yogurt until you create a cheese from it. The resulting whey I suspect you can make traditional ricotta from because the yogurt is cultured. By making traditional ricotta simply heat up the whey to near boiling. You'll see tiny specks develop which is the albumin protein separating out. This is what makes up the ricotta. Simply strain the whey again and you'll have a small amount of ricotta.
Buttermilk cheese can be made with whole milk, some cultured buttermilk and salt.
For this recipe I'll be using 1 gallon of raw goat milk, distilled white vinegar and kosher salt. This recipe doesn't require the milk to be raw because I will be heating it to a high temperature, which will basically pasteurize it anyways.
I started by heating up the milk to 185 deg F.You can bring it to boiling, but this imparts a cooked flavor to the milk which I would prefer to avoid.
Once it reaches 185 deg F I took it off the heat and stirred in 1/4 cup of vinegar (you can add an additional 1/4 cup slowly if you don't have curds yet). I slowly stirred until curds began to form. They are white masses and the whey that separates out will have a yellow color to it. I then allowed it to sit for 5 minutes to allow them to develop more and settle a bit.
I then strained the curds and whey through a cheesecloth lined colander over another pot. We save the whey and freeze it in ice cube trays to add to smoothies. I allowed the cheese to drain for 10 minutes. I then put the curds in a bowl and mixed in 1 Tbs of kosher salt. I took the cheesecloth, lined a cheese basket (mine came with the hard cheese kit I previously purchased from here) and put the curds in it. I gently pressed out a bit more whey and then put it in the fridge to chill. Once chilled I gently pulled it out and put the cheese on a plate.
We used some of this cheese our our pizza. This type of cheese doesn't melt. Also, it doesn't improve with age so it must be eaten fresh. If you can't eat it all fresh, you can freeze it, but the texture may change a bit.
So, your challenge is to choose one of the cheeses above to make. Feel free to build on the recipe by adding herbs and spices. Try new milks if you can find them, like sheep or goat. Then tell us what you did and how you used it.
I look forward to hearing how it goes!