Homemade Fresh Cheese!
For the first time ever, I made fresh cheese!! Woohooo!!!!
For folk who know me well, they know that I love cheese the way most women love chocolate. If I'm blue, I eat cheese. If I'm happy, I eat cheese. Let's face it, I eat cheese!
I suffer with respiratory problems and congestion so I have to pick my dairy battles very carefully. I am not a milk drinker, like most folk here in Norway, I don't eat ice cream on a regular basis so my dairy products of choice are generally yogurt, skyr and cheese. I usually lean toward dry cheeses as they don't affect me as adversely as creamier cheeses but I adore creamy cheese!!! I do, I do, I do!
This was my first stab at making cheese so I wasn't going to go to crazytown and try some difficult process using rennet. Ya gotta crawl! So, my first try I looked up some ways to make a creamy, fresh cheese using yogurt as a base and an acid instead of rennet.
For the acid you can use vinegar, citric acid or a citrus fresh juice. I used lime juice, since that's the fresh citrus I had available at the time. I always have plain or Greek yogurt in my fridge. I don't ever buy low fat or light products. I'm of the firm belief of using things in their natural, full fat state, just be smart about your intake. Very often strange chemical processes are used to make things "light". I don't dig it.
Plus, to make cheese you need to have the dairy in its full fat, natural state.
For this yogurt cheese I used a beautiful full fat Greek yogurt. I placed 2 cups into a piece of cheese cloth and into a strainer over bowl. I used a rubber band around the cloth, put a saucer on top and placed a heavy can on top of the saucer to put pressure on the yogurt mixture. This process slowly presses the whey from the yogurt. I left it in the fridge overnight. I the morning I was left with a very firm yogurt with a soft cream cheese like consistency. You can stop at this point and season this creamy mixture to spread onto bread or crackers but I wanted a firmer more fresh cheese consistency.
This is the yogurt after the whey has been strained.
I mixed in 1 tablespoon of fresh squeezed lime juice, 1 teaspoon pink salt, crushed red pepper flakes (to taste) and I minced 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary. You can use any spices you'd like or none at all. Salt is necessary for proper flavoring of the cheese, even if you plan to have plain cheese to add a fruit preserve on top.
After I mixed in the spices and herbs, I spooned the mixture onto a fresh cheesecloth and tied it off with a rubber band and use the same process of placing a saucer and heavy can on top.
I let it sit in the fridge for 2 days, making sure the can was putting good pressure on my mixture. After 48 hours, I unwrapped the cheesecloth and I was left with this semi-firm, lovely round of fresh cheese!
It has a tangy, lightly spicy flavor with the hints of rosemary. I served it on bread slices and crackers drizzled with a fragrant olive oil and some Crimson seedless grapes.
I'm going to try some more adventurous recipes for cheeses as I become more comfortable with the process but for a first try, this was amazingly easy and very tasty!
Don't be afraid to try new recipes. This one was not expensive so if it doesn't come out great the first time you try, no big deal. Just start over and try it again! Cooking is about trying new things to find out what works best for you.
Now, go cook, eat and start a revolution!
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