Getting your kids to cook with you in the kitchen is a great way to teach valuable life skills, get them to understand the importance of healthy eating, and sometimes even to teach a little bit of science. Here is how you can make your own homemade cheese right in your own kitchen.
Supplies and Ingredients. First of all you need to gather your supplies. You will need a large pot such as a dutch oven or stock pot, ½ gallon of whole milk, several sheets of cheese cloth, ½ cup white vinegar, a large bowl, a wooden spoon for stirring, a candy thermometer (optional), and some salt. You will also be using your stove top.
Procedure. Making cheese at home is most likely much easier than you realize. Pour your half gallon of milk into the large pot. Begin heating the milk over medium heat, stirring very frequently. Make sure you kids stir all the way to the bottom of the pot so you don’t scorch your milk. Stir your milk over the heat until it reaches about 190 degrees Fahrenheit. You want to try to keep your milk from coming to a full boil.
Once your milk reaches the right temperatuve, remove it from the heat and quickly add your half cup of vinegar by pouring it all at once into the milk. Now is the hardest part. You have to leave the mixture alone for 10 minutes. Don’t stir the mixture or shake it around. Just leave it alone. During this time, however, do observe the mixture to see the coagulation that is happening before your eyes. After 10 minutes, stir the concoction and you will see that curds have formed.
Next you will need to pour the mixture through several layers of cheesecloth held above a large bowl, or set in a strainer above a large bowl. Gently press the cheesecloth to remove excess moisture. Be careful—it’s still hot! You can let the cheese sit to drain for a few minutes to make sure the moisture is mostly out of it.
Finish. Once the curds have drained thoroughly, add a small amount of salt to the mixture and using your spoon, break up the curds to incorporate the salt. You’ve just made your own homemade, semi-soft cheese! The cheese is technically Queso Blanco, and has a texture similar to feta, or if your moisture level is higher, ricotta. You can sample the cheese as is, or use it in recipes such as lasagna.
Final Tips. Because of the addition of the vinegar and the high acid content, some people find this cheese to be too acidic for their taste. If this is the case for you, you just need to add a base to balance out the flavor. Baking soda works perfectly. Your cheese will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks so get creative and use your homemade cheese for a variety of recipes!