Fast and Soft Cheese

Fast and Soft Cheese

What is that light cheese inside your enchilada or chile relleno? Chances are, it is an unripened, fresh cheese called Queso Fresco. I have checked out a few recipes, and while it takes only a day to make, it requires a starter.

In about an hour, and without a starter, you can make this Fast and Soft Cheese. Fresh and slightly tart, it can be used in place of Queso Fresco, Ricotta, or even Cream Cheese. If you have two hours to let the rennet work, your cheese will string when melted.

To make about half a pound of Fast and Soft Cheese:

1/2 gal (2L) fresh, whole milk
2 1/2 tsp citric acid *
1/2 tab rennet, suspended in 1/4 cup cold water *
1/2 tsp salt, or lite salt

In a non-aluminum pot, gently heat the milk up to 88F.  Stir in two teaspoons of the citric acid until dissolved. Add the rennet and stir well.

Allow the milk to sit undisturbed for at least 15 minutes. The longer you let it sit, up to an hour or even two, the stringier the cheese will be due to the action of the rennet.

Heat the mixture up to 108F. Sprinkle the remaining half teaspoon of citric acid over the milk, and gently stir to dissolve. The milk should immediately separate into curds and whey.

Fold a clean tea towel (not terry) in half and place it over a colander. Carefully pour the curds and whey through the tea towel. Allow the whey to drip out of the curd for about 15 minutes. Do not squeeze the towel. Save the whey for baking, watering plants, or a treat for your pets.

The curd should be a semi-solid ball. Break it up a little and stir in the salt.

Place the curds into a pyrex cup. Microwave for about 45 seconds, then stir it quickly with a plastic mixing spoon. Press it against the back of the cup. The curd will seem to shrink and some water will separate. Pour off the water. Microwave the curd for another 30 seconds and stir again. The cheese should be melted. Stir it well and set it aside until you need to use it. (Plan to use it the day you make it. This cheese is not cured and contains a minimal amount of salt so it will not keep well in the fridge for more than a day or two.)

* Citric acid is available through your pharmacy, and traditional rennet can be found in the dessert section of the grocery store. There are vegetable and microbial based rennets on the market but you may need to order them online or through a health food store.

This recipe was shared at the Ultimate Recipe Swap's Dairy Collection.

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