Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Making Cheese

Experiments with goat cheese, discovering a source for raw milk, and guiding my class of budding culinarians through the production of lemon cheese, and I got carried awhey (sorry, I couldn't resist) with the idea of making cheese at home.

Though I am an avid cheese eater, the only cheese I'd ever made myself was paneer (which, incidentally, is very similar to lemon cheese). So I thought it best to start with a fresh, uncultured cheese, if only for the simplicity and immediate gratification. My goal is to work my way up to homemade chèvre and convince my husband to get me a goat.

Herbed Lemon Cheese
Printable Recipe

1 quart whole or 2% milk
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¾ teaspoon minced fresh chives
½ teaspoon minced Italian parsley
¼ teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, grated
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Gently heat the milk to 180ºF. Add the lemon juice and stir slowly until the milk separates into curds and whey. Ladle into a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh sieve set over a large bowl. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth together over the curds and tie with butcher's twine. Let the curds drain in the refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours, or until the desired consistency.

Transfer the cheese to a medium bowl, stir in the chives, parsley, thyme, and garlic and season to taste with salt and pepper. Form the cheese into a wheel and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

Makes just over 6 ounces. This cheese has a mild, milky flavor and a spreadable consistency. You will need about 2 lemons for this recipe. Finely woven cheesecloth is preferable—if you have the loosely woven kind, use several layers of it. Vary the cheese by using other tender herbs such as basil, mint, or chervil. Alternatively, make a sweet cheese by stirring in a few drops of honey and some finely grated lemon zest. Keeps for a couple of days tightly sealed in the refrigerator. Keep the whey for baking and braising.


Anonymous said...

this looks amazing! i wonder if i could use full fat milk? i would love to try this recipe this weekend.

Lucy Vaserfirer said...

Yes, you can use whole milk, and you can even try substituting heavy cream for a quarter of the milk.

Anonymous said...

Looks so easy, thanks for the recipe

Wow, this cheese looks a lot like the "Boursin" cheese they have in France

The brand has flavors other than garlic & herbs like pepper (lots of it !) or figs & nuts
You should try something like this for your next batch (though garlic & herb is my personal favorite...). I guess this recipe can be variated endlessly

Anonymous said...

I tried with heavy cream since it was all I had and nothing happened. Also, it is unclear, after it reaches the desired temperature, do I remove from heat to stir in the lemon? I failed miserably. :(

Lucy Vaserfirer said...

Sorry it didn't work out for you, but cream cannot be substituted for the entire quantity of milk because cream contains less protein and more fat than milk. I hope you try it again using milk, and when you do, do not continue to heat the milk after it reaches 180ºF, just add the lemon juice and stir until it separates into curds and whey.

avaserfi said...

Cheese can be a tricky thing to make well if you don't understand the entire process. It is a chemical process that is based on specific proteins and enzymes in milk. I've found that it is best to try and stick with a proven recipe until you really understand what is going on.

The plus side is that I had no trouble at all making this recipe, I just made sure to follow it carefully!

One trick I have learned is that milk pH does change naturally as it ages. More fresh milk has a higher pH than older milk. So sometimes I have to add some extra lemon juice to the milk to get full conversion of the solids to curds in the milk. So I always check the color of the whey before straining. If it is too milky a full conversion did not occur.

Stories They Tell said...

In my Vermont cheesemaking class, we were told that it was imperative to use unpasturized milk for cheese. They finally passed a law here making it ok for farmers to sell unpasturized milk at 30 gallons per day. If you haven't had it, it is the queen of milk-- full of cream (which rises to the top), rich and really flavorful. And not full of hormones or additives. The farms that sell this are clean and certified and you can take a tour and actually meet the cows that are producing your milk. Most of these farms also produce their own eggs and cider. It's called "localvore"-- eating what's grown and raised locally or even by your own self. Once you raise, butcher and eat your own chickens, you will never go back to store-bought.

tBosc said...

I recently have gotten into making cheese myself. I pleased to stumble upon your blog, while looking for something else!

For clarification to Christine's comment, you can make cheese out of pasteurized milk, but ultra-pasteurized will not work well. Pasteurization is simply the process of heating to a specific temperature for a specific duration (161 deg F for pasturized). I would be hesitant to believe there is an added benefit to using raw if you are going above that temperature (other types of cheeses aren't heated that high).

Avaserfi's comment about the changing pH is very helpful information, thanks for sharing.

Pat B said...

You may use plain white vinegar instead of the lemon juice in the
cheese recipe....be sure to use
whole milk...it makes a better cheese....quite firm....I like the idea of using herbs, garlic,
etc....you can use as a spread or
in enchiladas.....tasty!

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