Making Queso Fresco

Perhaps you noticed the little button on my blog that says, "I'm taking the 2012 Urban Farm Handbook Challenge." It's been there for a few months but I haven't really said much about it. It is happening. I'm just a little behind on the reporting.

In February we prepared our soil by pulling out our winter garden and planting our Spring/Summer garden. Our compost bin is almost back up and running after a long winter hiatus. March focused on building a home dairy. No, we didn't adopt any cows or goats. I just continued making yogurt and considered making ricotta cheese again. But then I didn't. I thought perhaps my home dairy skills would stick to just yogurt for a while longer...and then I came across a recipe for homemade queso fresco in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Random I know. 
But I happen to love to love this salty, crumbly cheese. Besides, cheese I can make at home without having to order special ingredients? I couldn't resist. 

I know you want to make some too. In addition to the ingredients listed below you'll need a thermometer, a colander, and a cheese cloth. I changed the amounts given in the original recipe since I was pretty sure we wouldn't eat a gallon of cheese this week. Feel free to double or triple depending on the size of your family and your stockpot.  

8 cups whole milk
1 Tbls. kosher salt
1/4 cup white vinegar

Pour 8 cups whole milk into a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed stockpot. Stir the salt. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches 190 degrees F.

Remove from heat.

Stir gently while slowly adding the vinegar. You should see some curds forming. After adding the vinegar, let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.

While it's sitting, line the colander with the cheese cloth (fold it so it's at least double thickness) and place the colander in the sink.

After the milk/vinegar mixture is done sitting, carefully pour the hot mixture into the colander. The curds should be caught by the cheese cloth and the whey will drain down the sink. Alternatively, you could save the whey. If you know any creative uses for whey, leave me a comment and let me know!

Let the curds drain for 15-20 minutes and then transfer to a small covered bowl and put it in the fridge to cool. Let cool at least 30 minutes before using. The cheese can be stored in the fridge for up to three days. Sometimes it can be tricky to get the curds out of the cheesecloth without the getting stuck. The curds will come out easier when they're well drained. I was able to pick up the cheesecloth and just flip the curds out into a bowl.   

After it's cooled, the cheese is ready to sprinkle on your favorite tacos, fajitas, or my favorite breakfast eggs. You can see my finished product in the photo at the top of the post.   

Now I know you're thinking. The home dairy business was the March part of the Urban Farm Handbook challenge. I know. This month is all about gardening. Our garden is growing but I realized this morning we have some bug friends. Stay tuned for more on the April part of the challenge next week!

Follow all our adventures at S.A.H.M. i AM.


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