Monday, February 21, 2011

Cheesy Does It

Let's make some cheese! I'm so excited to learn how to do this. There is nothing better than a good piece of savory cheese on a salty cracker or tortilla. I decided I should start easy and work my way up because as I have researched, some of my favorite cheeses seem insanely hard to make! I found this great looking recipe for queso fresco in a special edition of Better Homes and Garden Magazine last month and I think it looks easy enough for even me to do. Queso fresco is a soft and salty Mexican cheese used for topping tacos, quesadillas, crumbling over salads and you can even incorporating into a tomato and basil bruschetta or anything else; it's a really versatile cheese. I can't get enough of this stuff, and usually have some on hand in the fridge, but I have always had the store bought kind in the little round wheel. Going with the premise that everything tastes better from scratch, my taste buds are just dancing at the thought that it could get any better.

Homemade Organic Queso Fresco
Makes about 4 cups

1 Gal Organic Whole Milk
2 Tbsp Sea Salt
1/2 Cup White Vinegar

1. In a big pot (6-8 qt) add your milk and salt, stir, then bring up to 190 degrees F using a candy thermometer. Stir frequently.
2. Remove from heat and gradually add the vinegar as you stir the milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then gently stir. This is where you will notice the curd separating from the whey.

3. Line a colander with a double thickness of cheesecloth and pour in the contents of your pot, discard the whey (the liquid). Let the curd drain for about 15 to 20 minutes.

4 &5.  Now you can either spoon it into a container, or if you want a firmer cheese you can take the ends off of a tin can, put the can on the plate, spoon the cheese into the can, put the lid over the top and top the lid with a weighted can(see illustration below). I just used a can of beans I had in the pantry :). Then you can chill it for a few hours (4-24) and it will get nice and firm.  

6. Cut the cheese--haha-- into smaller wheels, wrap in saran wrap, then you can either chill and use the individual wheels, or share with friends. See, easy right?
Step 1. Bring milk and salt up to 190 degrees F, while stiring frequently.

Step 2. Remove from heat, gradually add vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes

Step 3. Drain whey from curd, 15-20 minutes

Step 4. Chill cheese, or pack it unto a cylinder (can) and press for 4-24 hours, then chill.

Step 5. Weight lid down with another can to press cheese and make it firmer
Step 6. Cut cheese into wheels, wrap in saran wrap, and chill or share with friends.

This was such a fun project and was so easy, I let my nine year old niece help me and she had a blast. She had so much fun, but was a little sad she didn't get to get messy. The great thing about making cheese is it's pretty simple and clean, no need to ruin those manicured nails. Making cheese is a great activity for kids, not only because it's fun, but also because they are actually learning about the food that they eat and how it's made. The more kids understand about food, the easier it will be for them to distinguish the crap from the good stuff later in life.

So overall this whole cheese making experience was great, I knew making this cheese would be easy, but this was a piece of cake! I am definitely ready to try my hand at some harder, more intricate cheeses; but for now I'm going to enjoy my queso fresco. It does taste a little different from the store bought queso fresco. It's a little more mild, and has a consistency  between queso fresco and ricotta; It's really good. I put some on top of my pizza last night, threw some in my salad for lunch today, and think I will make some tostada's with it tomorrow. I may even try mixing it into a lasagna; the possibilities are endless.

My nine year old niece enjoys making cheese as much as I do :)
Update 2.25.11
I was nominated for Blog Of The Month on the site Just For Blogs! If you like what you see here, please go to their site and vote for Preserving the Past in their March poll. This would be the best birthday present ever. Thanks! :D


  1. Great article Candy! My 9 year old read this too and she wants to make some now! It won't be today but that may be my next thing! Woohoo! Aren't weekend cooking/baking projects fun?

  2. This is awesome! Thanks for posting. :) I feel like doing this as well, but maybe I'll mix in some rosemary or something before and garlic salt.

  3. Cool Kim! Yes, weekend porjects are the best, especially for people who work weekdays, like me.

    That sounds awesome Klazy! You can also add chopped cilantro and/or jalapenos...or pretty much anything you feel like to this cheese. Like I said, It's pretty versatile. :)

  4. That is sooo freaking cool!! I think I am going to have to try this and very soon!! May take you cue and have my adorable niece over to help me as well. She would love it!!

    And putting it in lasagna? I almost had an orgasm when I thought of that.

    Ooooo...should I have not said that? That might not have been very PG13.

    Oh, and I am super duper excited about our craft swap!! I ordered some special papers just for your book and am waiting on them to come in.....I think you will love them!

  5. Yay, Scrappy! I'm so excited about our craft swap!

    Have fun with your niece, it's fun being the cool aunt :)

    ...and yes, the thought of putting queso fresco in lasagna makes my mouth orgasm as well...hahaha

  6. Alright, I'm inspired. I may have to try this sometime. Maybe I'll make my mom help me. :)

  7. Anything having to do with cheese is amazing! I couldn't imagine not eating it in all it's stinking glory :) You are a cool aunt, wish I had one like you when I was a kid!

  8. Very Cool Candice! Do you know how long it stays good in the frig? Also, does it melt like regular cheese?

    I was truly shocked that it was so easy! I am baking sprouted wheat bread today. Come by and check out my posts if your a mind to. :)

  9. Awe, Des! :D Than!

    Raven, I'm assuming it has a shelf life of about 7 days since it's a pretty basic cheese without enzymes, bacteria, and preservatives. It has a higher melting point than american and mozzerella cheese. I would compare it to that of feta cheese, since it doesn't spread out like american or mozzerela. Can't wait to check out your sprouted wheat bread! I have a feeling making bread from scratch is going to be a blog post very soon :)

  10. Drool. You had me with "cheese."

    Printing this be able to say I even "made the cheese?" Rock. On.

  11. Just wanted to let you know that I nominated your blog for blog of the month at For The Love of a look!

  12. It's awesome Chantel, you won't regret it. Totally easy too.

    Kim, you are so damn sweet! Thanks!

  13. I am definately going to try this! And I'm passing the recipe on to my daughter who operates a community garden & kitchen. She will love this!

  14. That looks so good...I need to give this a try!

  15. Very cool post, thank you for sharing with us your creation of cheese! :D
    By the way, I have given you a blogger award, you can see my blog for details

  16. Wow! Thanks so much! I will go check that out :D

  17. Honestly I can not believe how easy that looks... is it that EASY? wow! congrats on that awesome looking queso.

    Congrats on the nominate

  18. You do all the things I want to do!
    I want to make cheese too, but maybe when I have an actual kitchen. :P

    This is my sister's new favourite kind of cheese, so I'll definitely pass it on.

  19. Hi Candy. I passed on the "Versatile Blogger" award to you - I'm sure you've already collected it from others, too! (your blog is awesome xoxox) My post about the award is here:

  20. This looks delish!

    I found your blog on 20sb