Fresh & Tangy Herb Cheese
This recipe needs more work to make it foolproof. When it goes wrong you end up with herbed ricotta, which isn't bad either.
A $3 or $4 gallon of milk when heated with acid turns into cheese and whey. The simplest to make is ricotta. A step or two more and you have mozzarella. And with a little imagination and not much more skill, you can make delicious fresh cheeses at the drop of a hat.
This recipe adds buttermilk and herbs to the basic mozzarella formula to get a deliciously tangy cheese, great to eat slice or to melt on a pizza.
1/2 clemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
1 cbuttermilk or 4 tbl dried buttermilk mixed in 1 cup water
1 galmilk (not ultrapasteurized)
1 Tbspdried herbs, e.g. fines herbes, herbs de provence, dill, etc.
1junket rennet tablet dissolved in 1/4 cup water
NOTES ABOUT INGREDIENTS
--any acid may be used according to your flavor preferences. vinegar or citric acid are commonly used.
--buttermilk is optional but adds a pleasant tang.
--ultrapasteurized milk will not make curds because it was heated too much in processing. many organic milks in the supermarket are ultrapasteurized and therefore cannot be used to make cheese.
--junket rennet tablets are relatively weak for cheese making. if you use liquid rennet or a tablet made particularly for cheesemaking, reduce the amount to 1/4.
--salt is optional but does make for a much better tasting cheese.
How to Make Fresh & Tangy Herb Cheese
- In a large, non-reactive pot, pour in lemon juice, buttermilk, and milk and stir to mix. Stir in herbs. The herbs will float at first but they will be mixed in as the cheese is kneaded later.
- Slowly heat the milk mixture to 90F. An inexpensive instant read thermometer works well for measuring the temperature of the milk.
- When the milk has reached 90F but is still less than 100F, stir in the dissolved rennet tablet. If you milk is too hot, let it cool back down to the 90s before adding the rennet. If you make a mistake at this point and overheat the rennet, your cheese may never fully come together but your fall back position is that you intended to make ricotta!
- Turn off the heat and stir briefly to fully mix in the rennet. Allow to sit until curds form, up to 30 minutes. What you are looking for is the curd and the whey to be totally separated. The whey will be a yellowish liquid with curd floating on top.
- Ideally, your curd will be one solid mass. If it is in small pieces more like cottage cheese you are likely on the way to making ricotta rather than solid cheese but such ricotta is wonderful on pasta. If your curd is one solid mass, this is called a "clean break."
- Cut the curd into cubes about 1 inch square. Don't worry too much if it falls apart a bit at this point. Turn the heat back on and,gently stirring, slowly bring to between 105F and 110F.