Sunday, May 8, 2011

Home made cheese - Queso Fresco

I read about this method of making cheese a little while ago and I have been dying to have a go.  It is the same method (and in fact the same cheese as ricotta) Saturday we were having some friends over for dinner and I decided to use this home made cheese in an Italian inspired salad which was a combination of several recipes.

Salad with Queso Fresco
Don't be put off by the idea of making cheese, it was incredibly easy, made with ingredients that are probably in your kitchen at all times and the results were well worth it.

4 litres of milk (I used whole milk)
Juice of two lemons
1 teaspoon of salt.

Pour the milk into a large stainless steel or enameled pot such as le cruiset. Heat slowly stirring often until the milk is just about to come to a boil.  This is 195 degrees, but as I could not find a candy thermometer (possible because I don't own one) I just watched until the bubbles around the edge of the pot started to increase and get larger.  Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, stir in and let stand for a 5 minutes.  The milk should start to separate in to curds and whey, mine did not, so I put the heat on again and after a couple of minutes it separated beautifully.  I guess I need to get a candy thermometer.

Separated milk

While I was waiting for the milk to be ready I put 4 layers of cheese cloth into a colander sitting on a large stock pot.  You could also use a clean tea towel, but I actually did have some cheese cloth on hand, I have no idea why.

Pour the curds and whey into the cheese cloth and let it drain for 1/2 an hour.

When most of the liquid had drained away I pulled the edges of the cheese cloth up and tied the top with twine and hung this on a wooden spoon over the stockpot.

I let the cheese drain for a further 1/2 hour then dropped my camera!  Thank heavens my husband has one as well, but I feel like I lost a good friend, that camera and I have enjoyed some wonderful trips and many good meals together.

I cut open the cheese cloth bundle and put the cheese into a small bowl and stirred in the salt.

Finished cheese
I then packed it in a smaller dish and refrigerated it for a couple of hours.

This tasted very similar to the cheese that we had in Puerto Rico and so I decided to use it in a salad.  But one of our guests, as I was putting the salad together, spread some on a cracker  and said it was delicious this way.  you could of course use this in lasagna or in other pasta dishes, or in any Mexican dish calling for queso fresco. I will be making this many more times it was delicious and so easy and what a sense of accomplishment to make your own cheese!  Mozzarella is next.

The salad was a bed of baby arugula (rocket) which I covered with an assortment of grape and cherry tomatoes.  Sprinkled the cheese over this and then drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. On one platter I added some prosciutto.

Salad without prosciutto


  1. It was delicious and looked beautiful too.
    Thanks for a memorable meal!

    Cottager's Wife (and the Cottager too)

  2. Great timing as I am planning an Italian dinner next week. How well does it keep in the fridge? Veronica

  3. It is supposed to keep up to a week, but mine was gone in 24 hours! But I would like experiment with ageing, more research and testing to do.