How to Make Fresh Cheese: The Basic Steps

Learn how to make scrumptious fresh cheese and get easy cheese recipes for paneer, mascarpone, chevre and fromage blanc.

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Photo by Tim Nauman 

Learning to create fresh cheeses is an art that is far easier than aging cheeses — and you won’t have to wait months (or years) to taste the results of your alchemy. Three versatile cheeses that you can create in your own kitchen are paneer, mascarpone and fromage blanc (called chèvre when made from goat’s milk). You can save 20 to 70 cents per ounce by producing these cheeses yourself, even if you start with premium milk from grass-fed animals.

The elementary science for turning milk into any of these delightful cheeses is the same, so below are the main steps for concocting fresh cheeses in detail. Look at the next page for the recipe variations required to turn out each specific cheese.

1. Heat the milk. In a heavy-bottom, nonreactive pot, heat the milk over medium-low to the temperature directed in the recipe. Stir continuously to prevent scorching.

2. Acidify the milk. Milk separates into curds and whey when it is acidified. The warmer the milk, the less acidic it will need to be to separate. When the milk has reached the proper temperature, remove the milk from the heat and add the recipe’s specified acid — lemon juice, citric acid, vinegar or tartaric acid — or bacterial culture that produces its own acid. Stir the acid into the milk a little at a time, pausing after each addition to check for curd separation. When the curds pull away from the side of the pot and the whey around them is mostly clear, you’ve added enough acid. If the recipe calls for a powdered bacterial culture, sprinkle it over the milk and leave the mixture alone for a minute before beginning to stir gently and continuously for a few minutes. Leave the pot alone for 10 to 20 minutes before draining.



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