I love cheese. I really love cheese. I mean I REALLY love cheese. So I decided to make some. Granted, I’ve never done it before. I have no real idea what it is I am doing. But when my family kindly affirmed my suspicion that I was going crazy, I knew I was on the right track. Allegedly, making cheese is easy. Allegedly. I wanted to start with something simple that used normal ingredients I wouldn’t have to go out specially to buy. Ingredients like milk, lemon juice, and salt. Think you can make cheese out of that? You can. Granted, it’s a soft, spreadable cheese and nothing like your aged Gruyere, but it’s a start. And, as with many recipes I post, it’s almost embarrassingly easy and quick. Really.
Soft Lemon Cheese
based on New England Cheese Supply Company’s Lemon Cheese
1 gallon whole milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large pot
1 wooden spoon
1 kitchen thermometer (the kind you clip on to the side of the pot is best)
1 colander and a large bowl to set it over
Pour your milk into the pot and clip on the thermometer so you can see it. Heat over medium heat, stirring regularly to make sure the milk doesn’t scald, until you reach 170-175 F. Pour in your lemon juice, stir briskly a few times and remove from heat. Curds should start separating from the whey. Let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, set your colander in the large bowl and line it with a few layers of cheesecloth. After the fifteen minutes, pour the curds and whey through your cheesecloth and let drain thoroughly. The traditional way of drying your curds further is to tie the four corners of the cheesecloth together and hang it somewhere it can drip quietly. The longer you let it drip, the dryer/firmer your cheese will be. I was impatient and just twisted the cheesecloth to force water out and then went straight to the eating part. Your choice. Anyway, when you’re done drip-drying, move the cheese out of its cheesecloth into a bowl and salt it to taste. You may also add herbs if you like.