Encouraged by my recent success with yogurt making despite my rather silly methodology I decided I wanted to try my hand at more homemade cheese. This time I decided to try Fromage Blanc, which I have decided has become my new favorite homemade cheese. Fromage Blanc is a fresh cheese that reminds me of a cross between ricotta, cottage cheese and cream cheese, although cream cheese is frequently used as a substitute for it. A big reason I loved making this cheese is the simplicity of the process. The hardest part is finding the starter cultures and everything from there is a piece of cake. I bought mine from Beer and Wine Hobby which has a warehouse store in Woburn, Massachusetts for all those in the MA area. If you’re not in the Boston area you can try your own local beer and wine supply shop as some also carry cheese making goodies. Otherwise theecheesemaker.com and cheesemaking.com are both great resources. Anyway, I digress. The point I was trying to make is that this recipe is extremely simple making it a good one for anyone who is just starting out or doesn’t have the patience for a lot of steps. All you will need is a large pot, instant read thermometer, your draining apparatus of choice, cultures, and some milk.
Yields about 40 ounces cheese
-1 gallon whole milk
-1 packet Fromage Blanc starter
Heat your milk on the stove to 86 degrees F and add the starter. Fromage Blanc Culture to the milk. Stir thoroughly. Cover and allow the milk to set in a room that is approximately 72 degrees F for 8-12 hours or until the milk has set into a thick custard-like mass which is called the curd.
When the cheese has set into a solid curd, ladle it into a colander lined with cheese cloth or coffee filters. If no ladle is available, gently spoon the curd into the clot/filter lined colander. If using the cloth, take two corners of the cloth in each hand and tie them in a knot. Hang the bag of up from this knot over the sink or a bowl. (a bungie cord on a hook is a great hanger for this) Allow the curds to drain for 4-6 hours or until the desired consistency is reached. If using the filters simply leave the lined colander in the sink to drain. You may not get quite as dry a cheese using the coffee filter method but I found it worked pretty well and saved me a trip to buy cheese cloth. The consistency of the end product will range from a cheese spread to a cream cheese.
Once the cheese is properly drained it is ready to be placed in a airtight container and be refrigerated for future use. It will keep up to two weeks under refrigeration. If you prefer a more whipped consistency (which I do) whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy before storage.
In addition to my cheese making I also had another great Monday at the farmer’s market. This week my CSA share was smaller than before, but had a greater variety to pick from. I ended up with another quart of strawberries, pea greens, English peas, zucchini, and summer squash. I used some of my stash to create the following:
It looks like quiche but it is actually a variation on the Zucchini Tamal from Mexico One Plate at a Time. Mine was a little different because I made quite a few substitutions. The result was a mixture of rehydrated masa with a little butter and baking powder along with zucchini, summer squash, onions, pea greens, and coarsely chopped pea greens that was steamed in a 9″ cake pan over a pot of simmering water. I garnished it with more pea greens and a side of guac and sour cream. I’m not posting the updated recipe because sadly it was a lot blander than I remembered despite making substitutions that if anything should have added more flavor. I know the original recipe called for salsa as a topping, which I didn’t use, which would have probably added more flavor. However, I typically don’t expect my condiments to do all the heavy lifting. Oh well. It wasn’t a dish I would have eagerly served company but topped generously with guac and sour cream it was still pretty good.
Good night all. I have a lot of fresh produce yet so I’ll be continuing to use that this week.