Have you ever wished you could make your own cheese? Some kinds, like gouda or cheddar, practically require a degree in chemistry and a cave set aside for the process, but soft cheese is simple enough for any kitchen.
Not convinced? Here’s the ingredient list:
1/2 gallon of milk (try whole milk)
The juice of 2 lemons, or about 1/3 cup bottled lemon juice
The equipment list is almost as short:
A large, heavy-bottomed pot
A thermometer (up to 185*)
Ready? Pour the milk into the pot and turn on the heat. Whisk often and keep an eye on the temperature.
When it reaches 185*, turn off the element and add the 1/3 cup of lemon juice. Immediately the curds begin to separate from the whey. (If they don’t, add a wee bit more lemon juice.)
Then cover the pot and set your timer for 15 minutes.
While it’s resting, line your colander with cheesecloth. If you’re using the whey for something—the liquid for tomorrow’s bread baking, perhaps?—set the colander over a bowl large enough to contain it. Or you can set the colander in the sink. When the timer goes off, pour the contents of the pot into the colander and let it sit until it comes to room temperature.
Then fold the cheesecloth over the curds, set the colander in a bowl, and put the whole thing in the fridge overnight (or for a few hours, at least). After the curds have chilled and set, remove them from the cheesecloth and add salt 1/2 teaspoon at a time, kneading it in with your hands, until the cheese is as salted as you prefer.
At this stage you can add other flavors if you like. A bulb of roasted garlic is great, or a filet of smoked salmon. But there’s really no need. It’s delicious on toast or crackers just as it is.
Now that’s easy enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face. Just say “cheese.”
Valerie Comer‘s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local food movement as well as their creation-care-focused church. She only hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters. Her first published work, a novella, was released in the collection Rainbow’s End from Barbour Books in May 2012. Visit her website and blog to glimpse inside her world.