A documentation of my preservation and preparation of local foods as I work through the seasons. This will serve as a reference tool for me in the future and as a sharing guide for family and friends...and anyone else interested. Hopefully, I can offer some useful methods, tips and recipes to share with everyone--be they novice or pro--and encourage them to join me in the exciting world of preserving and cooking with local foods.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Homemade Pepper Cheese with Currants & Honey

A soft, buttery cheese with hot pepper flakes.

Dave and I were both hungry for homemade cheese, and it's been a while, so.........  This is an easy and quick cheese recipe.  I added hot pepper flakes for variety. While it was still warm, we had it on crackers with currants and honey drizzled atop--boy did we every enjoy it!!

Note:  **The Rochester Good Food Store carries the rennet, lipase powder & citric acid. Otherwise, you can order them online at www.cheesemaking.com.

Soft White Cheese        Yield: one pound
1 gallon whole milk  (don't use "ultra" pasturized milk)
1/8 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool, unchlorinated water*
  (*use bottled or distilled water--or let a cup of tap water sit out 24 hours)
1/8 teaspoon lipase powder, dissolved in 2 Tablespoons cool water and
   allowed  to sit for 20 minutes. (optional but adds flavor)
1-1/2 teaspoons citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
  (or 6 Tablespoons lemon juice)
1 teaspoon salt (best is canning salt, or cheese salt if you can find it)
1. Add the citric acid/water solution to the milk while stirring
2. Put milk in pot over med heat, warm milk to 90 degrees. 
3. Remove from heat. Slowly stir rennet into warm milk with up-and-down chopping motion. Cover and let sit 5+ min. Check to see if milk is separating into solid whitish curd and watery-like whey. If not, let sit a bit more.
4. With long, thin knife, cut the curd into 1" cubes.
5. Put back on heat and warm to 105 degrees, stirring the curds gently. Remove from heat and stir gently for a few more minutes.
6. Use a slotted spoon to lift curds into 2 quart microwave-safe dish. (Save the whey in the pot for other uses.  See following post.) Gently press down the curds into the bottom of the dish and drain off any excess whey. Do not cover the dish.
7. Microwave on high for one minute. Fold cheese over and over (like kneading bread) to distribute heat evenly. Use either a spoon or heavy-duty rubber kitchen gloves to do this. Drain off any excess whey.
8. Microwave on high for 35 secs. Repeat folding/draining process above.
9. Microwave on high for 35 secs. and repeat folding/draining process.
10. Add salt and knead in to distribute.  Herbs, pepper flakes or other can be added at this time (approx. 1 teaspoon).  Drain excess whey.
12.  Mold, form and/or cut the cheese into any size or shape desireable.
Store covered in the fridge for up to one week.

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