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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fromage Blanc (Farmer's cheese)

Fromage Blanc (Farmer's cheese)

This was simply fun and is a great example of everything that we love about doing these weekend food projects.


We have been interested in making our own cheese for a few years now. I have tackled making a hard cheese in the past, but it didn't turn out so well so there was an intimidation factor that has been preventing further experimentation. We even bought one of those cheesemaking kits from the Cheese Queen, but it has languished in the cupboard for way too long. Finally, we decided to attend a cheesemaking class at a cool little boutique in the West Midtown area of Atlanta, and that was what we needed to shift us into gear.  So let's make some cheese.






Research:

We attended a cheese making class at The Preserving Place where we learned the basics of making cheese at home. If you live in Atlanta, I highly recommend stopping in. After the class, we were excited to come home and use our new skills to make something great. We decided to make a fromage blanc as our first attempt at homemade cheese.

Plan:

Gather the following ingredients:

1 quart of whole milk -- MUST BE NON-HOMOGENIZED - we found it at Whole Foods
0.5 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of cultured buttermilk
2 tablespoons of fresh strained lemon juice
0.25 tsp salt
Thermometer (digital, preferably)
Cheesecloth or muslin cloth





Execution:

No wine tonight... and I really don't want to talk about it.

We used an enameled cast iron pot because we thought it would be easier to heat evenly.


Add the milk and heavy cream to the pot.
Thoroughly combine the buttermilk and lemon juice in a separate bowl
and then add to the milk and cream.



Very slowly heat to 125 degrees and then gently stir once. 
Avoid breaking up as much curd as possible.



Continue heating until 150 degrees and then stir once more.

Once the temperature reaches 175 degrees, remove the pot from the heat.  Do not stir!  
It should take you about 20-30 minutes to get to 175 degrees.  Heating it any faster may 
scorch the milk and may not give the acid time to form the curds you need for the cheese.



After removing the pan from the heat, let it rest for 10 minutes. 
After 10 minutes, gently ladle the curds into a cheesecloth-lined strainer that is 
sitting in a slightly bigger bowl.  Let the curds drain here for about 3-5 minutes.



After the curds drain in the strainer, bundle up the corners of the cheesecloth and hang it above the sink.  You could also tie the bundle to a long wooden spoon and hang the bundle over a pot. Let the bundle continue to drain until it reaches the desired consistency. For us, we were looking for a softened, spreadable cheese, about the consistency of a soft butter.





Verdict:

About as good as good gets. We bought some cranberry walnut bread at the Whole Foods as well in the bakery section that we lightly toasted, spread on the cheese and then also added just a drizzle of honey. It was delightful. Please try this one, it was simple and delicious. A great weekend project.

Also as a side note, we have been told that the remaining whey could be used to make a great cream based soup or to make bread in the bread machine. We will try that another time and report back.

Please help support our site, buy something you like on Amazon. Simply click through the links below and though you can pick anything, I suggest the thermometer and knives below:


So apparently Thermoworks doesn't sell through Amazon anymore. You must buy direct. Still the thermometer to have. Go here and order direct. 

Aaron Franklin's Favorite trimming knife:

Dexter-Russell (S131F-6PCP) - 6" Boning Knife - Sani-Safe Series

Aaron Franklin's Favorite Brisket cutting/serving knife:

Sani-Safe S140-12SC-PCP 12" Scalloped Roast Slicer

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