The urge to make cheese came out of a conversation with my mom. She was remembering the farmer’s cheese she used to buy, small bricks wrapped in paper. It rang a bell, but I know I’ve not seen it in recent years, so I turned to the web to find out how to make it. Sure enough, there were dozens of recipes for farmers cheese using just two ingredients: Whole milk (not ultrapasteurized) and distilled vinegar.
It can’t be simpler:
1/2 gallon whole milk
1/4 cup distilled vinegar
Line a sieve with fine cheesecloth (some recipes say to wet the cheesecloth first…I did) and place over a large bowl.
Bring the whole milk to a slow boil (just bubbling around the edges) and then add the vinegar, stirring. It will begin to curdle immediately. Continue stirring for 2 minutes and remove from heat.
Pour into the cheesecloth. (I jiggled it a bit to speed up the process of the whey dripping into the bowl)
Some recipes said to refrigerate immediately, while other say let sit an hour. I compromised and let it sit for a half hour. The resulting farmer’s cheese was perfect.
And then there was all that whey liquid in the bowl. I knew there had to be a use for it, so back to the internet I went and found a recipe for making Norwegian cheese. Essentially you slowly simmer the whey (to which I added 1/4 heavy cream) until it’s reduced down, caramel in color, and the texture of fudge. This took about two and a half hours, with me stirring about every 30 minutes. When it reaches that stage, it said to whisk, but I stirred briskly with a wooden spoon and the resulting cheese with gorgeous, caramel color with a sweet and salty taste. I scraped it into an oil lined plastic tub as it immediately began to harden.
I can’t wait to spread it on crackers!