Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lemon Cheese

A few years ago I was working towards becoming more self sufficient and starting a little farm. We bought 2 goats and I got a catalog from so that I could learn to make goat cheese. I had lots of other plans but a house fire in June of that year put an end to a lot of those plans. Our goats, fortunately, were staying with a relative while we got things ready at our house for them. A week after the fire our goat gave birth and we suddenly had goat milk for days. Sadly, that goat died 2 months later because we didn't have a firm grasp on goat nutrition (many milking goats die of calcium deficiency but no one told us that). Anyway, during this time we were living in temporary housing and trying to use the goat's milk. We gave some away to family and friends but we were bringing home over a gallon a day. The cheesemaking catalog has some easy soft cheeses using lemon and vinegar - one lemon cheese and the other Queso Blanco. Over time, we just started calling them lemon cheese so this recipe is really a combination of the two. The process of lemon cheese is heating milk and then adding an acid that will force the milk to separate into curds and whey. Drain off the whey and press the curds into a cheese that resembles ricotta. You can add herbs to the mix but I never did. I did experiment with different vinegars and citrus acids. Each acid gives the cheese a unique flavor. We tried Balsamic vinegar and I have to say we liked it least but the cheese still got eaten.

Lemon Cheese
1 Gallon milk
2 Large Lemons or 1/4 cup vinegar (1/4 citrus juice works too)
Warm milk to 165-190 degrees F. For citrus juices you can stop at 165 but vinegar should be no less than 185. Stir often to avoid scorching the milk. Add the acid to the milk. Stir and allow to sit off the stove for 15 minutes.
The warm milk will separate into a stringy curd and a greenish liquid whey. Line a colander with cheesecloth and pour the curds and whey into the colander. Save the whey for baking bread if desired. Tie four corners of the cheesecloth into a knot and hang the bag of curds to drain for an hour or until it reaches the desired consistency. (I often would wrap the curds in the cheese cloth and leave it in the colander with a weighted plate on top to facilitate draining)
Remove the cheese from the cloth and place it in a bowl. Add salt to taste -- usually about 1/4 teaspoon. You may mix in herbs. Place the cheese in a covered container and store in the refrigerator. This cheese will keep up to a week.

This cheese freezes beautifully - make baseball sized rounds of the cheese, four to a one gallon freezer bag.

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