Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A simple cheesy treat!

Here's an excellent cheese recipe, good at any time, and a real treat when camping!

Whether it becomes Paneer or Ricotta or you invent your own name, you'll be making cheese!  It's easy, quick and mostly successful ;-)

Two litres of full cream milk makes about 250 grams of soft, cheesy goodness. You can use less or more milk depending on your needs.

Heat the milk in a saucepan. Stir with a slotted spoon to prevent a skin forming and to distribute the heat. Keep an eye on it! You can be guaranteed that as soon as you wander off or get distracted it'll boil over or burn.

When the milk just begins to get a little surface jiggle and appear to come alive keep stirring (not too vigorously) and add 1 - 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. If you only have lime juice, add that, or white vinegar.

Within seconds, all being well, the milk should begin to separate. At that stage, gently pull the curds to one side of the saucepan. This encourages them nestle together and helps the rest of the liquid to separate.

Occasionally my lemon juice hasn't resulted in separation of the milk into curds and whey (perhaps they weren't acid enough??) so I've added vinegar as well. It worked!

Now, gently pour everything into a muslin or chux lined sieve which you've placed over a bowl to catch the whey. You can add salt, chili, herbs or your favourite curry powder to taste, depending on how you'll be using the cheese.

Let it drip for about 10 minutes, then you can put it in a container to shape it into a round, square, or leave it crumbly.

The soft cheese is great crumbled in spicy Indian dishes, sliced and grilled for sandwiches, or used plain with fruit then drizzled with honey and cinnamon.

The best part, apart from the satisfaction of saying you made your own cheese? It's about 1/2 the price of buying it from my local supermarket, and takes less than an hour to make!
Top left: the milk is just beginning to jiggle.
Top right: we have separation!
Bottom: the curds before being pressed to shape. 
As for the whey, don't throw it away! It's great as the liquid in bread (here's a good, simple bread recipe), can be frozen for later use for sauces or failing all that, can be used in the compost.

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