It’s the end of summer time and around here that means fresh figs from my neighbor. Fresh figs mean delicious fig preserves. But fresh figs also mean it’s time to make some more cheese!! So, yesterday I went and grabbed me my non homogenized local milk and today I am going to make some fresh homemade cheese. I took plenty of pictures this time documenting the process for those of you interested in repeating the process yourselves at home.
This is all I used. We have a gallon of milk, a large pot, a thermometer, two figs, paper towels (because I’m too lazy and cheap to buy cheese clothe. It works just as well) and a strainer.
A quick note about the milk you use. Organic non homogenized whole milk is best for making cheese. You can use regular store bought milk but you won’t get as much cheese at the end of the process. Stay away from ultra pasteurized milk though. Ultra pasteurized milk is processed at a high temperature damaging the calcium and proteins which are needed to bind the milk and form a curd. So here is what I use from a farm in Edgefield, SC.
Pour your milk into the pot and start slowly heating it up. You want to leave it on low or medium setting so that you don’t scold or burn the milk as you heat it up. You want it to be just over 100 degrees. Anything between 100 and 120 is fine. The higher the temperature of the milk the harder the cheese will be. I want my cheese soft like cottage cheese so I plan on keeping it around the lower end of that.
Make sure you stir it occasionally and check your milk temperature every 20minutes or so to see where it is. When checking your milk’s temperature make sure you check it in the middle of the pan away from the sides and bottom of the pan to ensure you get the most accurate reading.
Last time I blended a whole fig and mixed it in but then I had the fig seeds in with the cheese and I didn’t like that so this time I am peeling the fig skins off. You can see the white inside, that is what I am after.
15 minutes after it first started curdling and it’s ready to drain! There will be white clouds floating in what looks like yellowish water. Those are your curds(cheese) and your whey.
Put your paper towels in your strainer and start pouring in your cheese. I place a pot underneath to catch the whey. There are numerous ways to use left over whey from making cheese. You can see of few of my favorite ways here- http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2011/06/16-ways-to-use-your-whey.html
After 25 minutes fold over the corners of the paper towels and press any extra whey out of the cheese. Be careful it will still be very hot!!
Move your cheese over from the sink to this and fold over the ends of the towel and let it stand for an hour.
If you want to got that down to only 30-40minutes you can put a heavy book on top.
You can season it however you want now. If you’re not going to eat it right away you need to add about 2tbs of salt mixing the salt in all the way and refrigerate it. You can make it savory, add some basil and garlic salt. Or some lemon pepper seasoning.
We like it plain, on salad, or cut up with fruit!