This makes a very soft mild white cheese, good for sweet or savoury dishes, or to accompany fruit as a dessert.
- 1l cultured buttermilk
- 10l skim (trim) milk, fresh or from powder
- 7ml fresh liquid rennet (Renco)
- 1 tbsp salt (preferably uniodised)
2-3 days ahead: Open the buttermilk, put the lid back on, and leave it outside the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
Culturing the milk
Put the milk in a clean pot and add the buttermilk. Leave it outside the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
Making the curd
Raise the temperature of the milk to 32C. Combine the rennet with 1c of water and add it to the milk. Stir the milk with a whisk for at least 5 minutes. Leave the milk to curdle until it makes a clean break.* Cut the curd into roughly 2cm dice by running a knife through it vertically and diagonally. Slowly raise the temperature of the curds and whey to 42C, stirring gently. You can do this in a large double boiler or very carefully on the stove top. It is very important not to let the curds on the bottom get overcooked, so keep it all moving gently from bottom to top. (You can do this with a spoon, or, better still, your immaculately clean hand-- it will help you keep the temperature even.) Gently break up any large lumps of curd. When the temperature reaches 42C, turn off the heat, and let the curd rest for 30min. Then strain the curds and whey though cheesecloth. Drain the curds for 15-30min. When you think it's drained enough, tranfer the curds to a bowl and sir in the salt. Let it stand an hour before serving-- consume within 3 days. Makes 1.5-2kg.
- If you want a more solid cheese, the curds can be put in a mold and pressed lightly.
- If you want a softer curd that's good as a dessert, do not let the temperature rise above 39C. Stir in 300ml cream along with the salt and serve plain, with fruit, or with honey.
A clean break is achieved when the curd has solidified and seperated from the whey. If you push your finger into the top of the curd, it should seperate cleanly around it, and your finger should come out clean. If it still seems mushy, let it sit a little longer.