Item #7 on my 12 Days of Gift Giving list is homemade cheese! Yup, you read that right! And no, you don’t need your very own dairy cow, a drying room or a cave. Making farm style cheese at home is easier than you think and only requires a few basic supplies. This recipe can be made without adding any herbs or can be made with the most daring fruit, veggie, herb or oil combinations imaginable! Its consistency is soft and velvety and is the perfect spreadable cheese. Wow everyone on your gift list with this one-of-a-kind item!
- 1 Gallon of whole milk
- ¼ cup lemon juice + a Tablespoon or two
- 2 teaspoons iodized sea salt
- 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
- 3-4 cloves fresh garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
- 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- Pinch of sea salt
- Stainless steel pot
- Cheese cloth
- Thermometer (optional)
- Spice bag (optional)
- Muffin tin
- Saran wrap
Rough chop you garlic and rosemary and place in a spice bag or tie into a bundle with cheese cloth.
In a large stainless steel pot heat the milk and spice bag over a medium/medium-high flame stirring regularly until it reaches 190 degrees or a low simmer (you may need to sweep aside the foam to check the surface of the milk) – around 15-20 minutes.
Remove from heat, take out herb bundle and stir in lemon juice. It should start curdling immediately. If you notice that there is more milk than curds add more lemon juice one Tablespoon at a time. Let it sit off the heat for 10 minutes.
Drape the colander with a few layers of cheese cloth and place it in the sink. Pour the contents of the pot through the cheese cloth, gently press out the excess liquid, sprinkle with sea salt and let it sit for about an hour.
Tie the corners of the cheese cloth together and squeeze out any extra whey. Hang the cheese on a wooden spoon so it is suspended above a colander or pot until all of the dripping stops, about an hour or two. When the time is up give it one last gentle squeeze – you want it to be wet but not sopping.
Line each cup of the muffin tin with plastic wrap and pack even amounts of cheese into each one. Mince the rosemary; distribute it and the pepper evenly among each of the servings. Fold over the plastic to cover the cheese and chill for at least two hours.
Surprisingly easy, huh? Feel free to use this as a master recipe and replace the herbs with any combination of flavors you want, be creative! Try topping the cheese with blueberry or raspberry jam or lemon ginger marmalade. You could also infuse the cheese during the cooking process with dried cherries and mango, cracked black pepper and basil, garlic and chive or any number of other daring flavor combinations! Make this item gift worthy by storing it in a pretty glass jar making sure to add a descriptive label. Consider pairing this gift with some nice table crackers and a bottle of white wine. This is the perfect way to cross that foodie off your list so let’s get cooking!