Queso Fresco Cheese

Back in week 5 of my Master Food Preserver class posts I had mentioned that we learned how to make queso fresco cheese but never posted the full instructions, so here they are! This one pictured below had some added herbs. Mmm. These instructions come from PNW 539.

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The first important thing with cheese making is to sanitize all your equipment. Cheese won’t be boiled, so sanitize all your spoons, knifes, bowls and other equipment by boiling it or soaking it in a bleach water solution for 2 minutes (one tablespoon bleach per gallon of water). You should also use pasteurized milk to make your cheese. If you have raw milk you can home pasteurize it by heating it to 145 F for 30 minutes.

On to the making of the cheese. To make cheese you need a thermometer, and it needs to be correctly calibrated. You can check it by placing it in ice water to ensure it reads 32 F or 0 C.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup cold tap water
Junket Rennett tablet
One quart cultured buttermilk
Two quarts pasteurized milk
7 tsp white vinegar
1 3/4 tsp salt

First, place one Junket Rennett tablet into the half cup of cold water and let it dissolve.

Meanwhile, combine the buttermilk, milk, and vinegar and mix well. Heat to 90F and then remove the pan from the heat. Add the dissolved rennet and mix for about two minutes.

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Let it stand for 30 to 40 minutes, undisturbed, until the curd is firm. Once firm, cut the curd into one inch cubes. This seems a bit odd, like you are cutting a liquid, but just go with it. Run the knife through at inch ish intervals. Let stand five more minutes. Heat the curds and whey again, to 115 F. Resist the urge to stir, just hold the thermometer carefully in there and heat it slowly. Once at 115 F, remove from heat and let stand five more minutes.

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Pour the mixture through cheesecloth in a colander and allow it to drain for five minutes.

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Then form the curd into a ball and twist the cheesecloth as pictured to gently squeeze out the whey.

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Break the curds up in a bowl and add the salt. Mix, and let stand for five more minutes. Squeeze through cheesecloth once again. The herb cheese pictured at the top of this post was perhaps a little drier than queso fresco typically is, so don’t over squeeze the cheese if you want a moister cheese. Form the cheese in a bowl or other mold. Remove from the mold. Refrigerate for up to a week.

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Easy peasy right? Just some heating and waiting and squeezing. This is one of the easiest cheeses to make, so if you’re wanting to get your feet wet in cheese making this is a great place to start.

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