Thursday, January 10, 2013

Homemade Fresh Buttermilk Cheese

Tip:  Read directions completely before preparing.

1 quart whole milk
1 1/2 cups whole or low-fat buttermilk
2 teaspoons coarse salt
Cut out three pieces of cheesecloth into 12-inch squares or use folded flour sack cloth.  Line a colander or medium sized fine strainer with the cheesecloth or flour sack.  Set the colander in the sink or in a pot.  I prefer using the flour sack.

Combine the ingredients into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or pot, and heat over medium-high heat until mixture has separated into white curds and translucent whey, about 10 - 15 minutes.  The whey is the watery part of milk that remains after the formation of curds.  If using lowfat buttermilk, separation occurs at about 180 degrees and the curds will clump together readily.  If using whole buttermilk, separation occurs closer to the boiling point, about 212 degrees, and the curds are finer grained.  When using whole buttermilk, let curds and whey stand off heat for about 3 minutes after separation, so the curds cling together and help the straining step.  You will see that the images of my cheese has little dark specks, it’s because I used truffle salt.  This has little bits of black truffles and I love the flavor it gives the cheese!

Scoop the contents of the saucepan into the prepared colander or strainer.  Let the whey drain, 3 to 4 minutes.

Lift the four corners of the cheesecloth and gather them together.  Gently twist the gathered cloth over the cheese and press out any excess whey.

Cheese can be unwrapped immediately and served, or cooled to room temperature, about 10 minutes more.   To serve a firmer cheese, place the cheese, in its cloth, to a small flat-bottomed dish or pie plate and refrigerate until cool.  Unwrap cheese and gently overturn onto plate.  You can then tent cheese with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated for up to 2 days.  Remove from refrigerator and let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature before serving.
Servings: 1 - 6-ounce round

Tip:  Homemade buttermilk cheese tastes somewhere between mozzarella and a cream cheese.  Instead of cheese cloth I opted for a flour sack cloth.  Flour sacks are not really sacks at all, but sheets of fabric made of very thin cotton threads. The weave is tighter than cheesecloth, but loose enough that you can see through the cloth.

Flour sack towels have many food uses.  Because there is no dye applied to flour sacks, they are extremely safe to use around foods.  For generations, cooks have used flour sack towels for poaching and straining foods, cheese making and so many other uses in the kitchen! Further, they are considered gourmet towels amongst chefs and professionals everywhere.  When you see a towel over a chef’s shoulder or tucked in an apron, it’s probably a flour sack towel.  As far as I’m concerned they are perfect for staining the cheese.  I have found that cheese cloth is too flimsy!  Plus, I can wash the cloth and reuse it!