Editor’s Note: Please welcome back our newest FSC Contributor, Jennifer Wilkerson, for her follow-up piece. Her first piece, Jennifer’s Sandwich Bread & Rolls, is a must read & do kinda piece! Welcome back Jennifer! -Christina
Last weekend my husband and I debated how long it had been since we had been to a big box chain grocery store. In the end it had been so long we honestly couldn’t remember. Slowly and steadily our family has moved to more local and homemade food choices. This month I wanted to try something new…something with the delicious local milk we pick up at Schenectady Greenmarket every Sunday. A simple farm cheese that requires no special ingredients seemed like a logical choice to test the waters.
Unable to decide between savory and sweet I split my first batch and mixed in two sets of additions. I encourage you to keep it simple. Mix in fresh herbs from your garden or a spoon full or two of jam, or some fresh cracked black pepper… your imagination is your only limit!
I’m already dreaming of sprinkling the garlic green onion cheese in tonight’s salad…
RECIPE: EASY FARM CHEESE
- 1/2 gallon of whole milk (I used Battenkill Creamery’s whole milk)
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- dash of fine sea salt, up to 1/2 teaspoon
- 1 clove minced garlic and 1-2 Tablespoons of minced fresh green onions (so beautiful at the Greenmarket right now)
- 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup, 2 Tablespoons of chopped walnuts and a dash of cinnamon
- mixing bowl
- heavy bottomed pot
- thermometer (optional)
- wooden spoon
- length of cheese cloth
- jars or small bowls for storage
- Set the pot on the stove, attach the thermometer if using. Turn heat on to medium low. Place an ice-cube or two in the bottom of the pot. Swirl the pot to distribute the melting cube over entire bottom. Gently pour the milk down the side of the pot. (Your goal is to not disturb the water.)
- Without stirring (really, resist the urge), let the pot sit undisturbed until the milk reaches a temperature of about 190 degrees. (I promise, if you keep the heat medium low and don’t disturb the bottom water barrier by stirring, you will not scorch your pot.) If you aren’t using a thermometer, heat until small bubbles appear and the surface rolls a bit but the milk does not boil (The boiling point of milk is close to the boiling point of water, which is 212°F at sea level, but milk contains additional molecules in it, so its boiling point is slightly higher.)
- Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the vinegar. The milk should begin to curdle and separate into curds and whey right away. If it doesn’t add 1 teaspoon of additional vinegar. Let sit for 15 minutes undisturbed.
- Pour the curds and whey into the cheese cloth lined colander. Sprinkle with salt. Tie up the cheesecloth around a wooden spoon and let it hang over a bowl or pot for 30 minutes to one hour. Check the curds every 5-10 minutes starting at the 25 minutes mark for your preferred constancy. You should have a nice spreadable, firm yet still wet, cheese. If you drain too much of the whey off, you would have a very crumbly spread.
- I reserved the drained off whey in mason jars to make my next batch of sandwich bread. You could also use it for pancakes or any other quick bread.
- NOTE: The optional mix-in ingredients (savory or sweet cheese) should be added after the hanging, so like I stated above, make sure the cheese is still slightly wet as the addition of ingredients will take additional moisture away.
- Store in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to a week.
- About .5 pound of cheese and 1-1/4 quarts of whey.