Easy Cheeses

For those of us who participate in a weekly herd share, the problem of leftover milk sometimes arises. In my two person household, we often have weeks where our half gallon goat’s milk immediate disappears into cereal bowls, homemade ice cream or even cocktails and our half gallon of cow’s milk is consumed by the tumbler-full and splashed into coffee and it’s all gone by Sunday. Other weeks I get to Tuesday night and wonder what on earth we’re going to do with what we have left before we get more at the market the next day.

My solution has been to make cheese. Before I’d tried my hand at it, I thought the process of cheesemaking sounded incredibly scientific and daunting. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be. The three recipes below won’t compete with some of the beautiful cheeses you’ll find at our farmer’s market, but if you’re looking for something simple, delicious and easy, the following options are good ones.

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Spreadable Cow's Milk Cheese

Ingredients
 

  • 2 c. whole cow’s milk 
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1.5 Tbsp. white wine or apple cider vinegar

In a medium-sized pot over medium heat stir together the milk, cream and salt. Continue to stir occasionally as you bring it to a full boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat, stir in the vinegar and allow to stand for 5-7 minutes. When the milk has begun to separate into curds and whey, pour it into a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Allow to drain for about thirty minutes, or until it achieves a texture that you like. This is delicious mixed with fresh herbs and spread on sourdough toast or used in place of ricotta in a lasagna recipe.

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Paneer

  • 8 c. whole cow’s milk
  • 3 T. lemon juice

In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, bring the milk to a gentle boil. Boil for one minute (do not allow to come to a rolling boil) and remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice one tablespoon at a time, stirring carefully after each addition. Continue to stir very gently until large curds develop. 

Pour the mixture into a sieve lined with cheesecloth or a very thin kitchen towel and rinse with a little bit of cold water (this removes any “lemony” traces). Tie the cloth into a tight bundle. Using a piece of string, hang the bundle over your sink or a bowl and allow to drain for 30 minutes. Gently shape the bundle into a disk, wrap loosely in a clean kitchen towel and place between two large plates with a weight on top (I use a large jar of canned tomatoes or bottle of olive oil–whatever is in my pantry). Allow to stand for 1.5 hours, or until firm, but not crumbly. Slice into cubes and add to curry or–my favorite–saag paneer.

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No-Heat Chevre
 

  • 2 quarts goat’s milk
  • 1/8 tsp. mesophilic culture (available here)
  • 1 T. of rennet water (made by diluting one drop of double-strength rennet into a 1/4 c. of filtered water)

Mix the goat’s milk, mesophilic culture and rennet water together in a glass container. Allow to sit out on the counter at room temperature for 24 hours with a cloth napkin covering the mouth of the container. Drain in a colander lined with cheesecloth for 24 more hours at room temperature, and you’re done! Crumble into salads or spread onto toast for a delicious treat. 

Heather Cross