This is a great cheese for beginners to try because it requires no special equipment or ingredients. It is a traditional Mexican cheese, and it does not melt, because it contains no rennet. We like to cube it, lightly brown it in oil, and serve it on pasta dishes with marinara sauce. You can also use it in Indian recipes that call for panir, and some people use it in place of tofu in recipes. Of course, you can serve it as a snack or appetizer with crackers or a crusty French bread and a dollop of fresh pesto. Try this with cow, goat, and sheep milk to compare the different tastes of the final cheeses. You can even mix half and half for more variety.
Makes 1–2 pounds
- 1 gallon milk
- 1/4 cup vinegar
Heat the milk on low to 180°F, add the vinegar and stir. The milk should begin to separate into curds and watery whey within a minute. If it does not separate or if the whey looks milky, continue heating it a bit more. My Nigerian Dwarf goat milk seems to separate best if I heat it to 190 °F . You can use any type of vinegar as long as it is at least 5 percent acidity. My personal favorites are champagne vinegar and red wine vinegar.
Line a colander with cheesecloth, and set the colander on top of a large pot or bowl to catch the whey as it drains. Pour the curds and whey into the cheesecloth. Tie up the ends of the cheesecloth and hang to drain. I usually hang mine on the sink faucet, but if you have a sloped faucet that won’t hold the bag, you can hang the bag on chopsticks or a spatula that spans the top of a tall pot. After 4 hours, unwrap the cheese and put it in the refrigerator to chill. After chilling it, you will be able to slice or cube the cheese and use it in cooking or serve it fresh.
This is an excerpt from Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living.
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