Sunday, March 15, 2009

herbed farmer cheese

Took another crack at homemade farmer cheese, this time adding a dry Tuscan seasoning blend and making it a little softer. Also, I did not have a lemon so I induced the curdling with some of the wine additive acid blend that I used in the hard cider.

I didn't quite let it reach a boil this time, turning the heat off after a slow (30 or 40 minute) trip up to 200 degrees. I stirred in a teaspoon of acid, and saw the expected curdling. It hadn't done as much as I expected after five minutes, and there was no visible whey, so I stirred in another half teaspoon. That produced instant results, with the liquid transforming within a couple of seconds into yellowish whey, and the curds separating completely.

After pouring into a cheesecloth-lined strainer I cut in a few tablespoons of the seasoning blend (garlic, sea salt, rosemary, basil, black pepper, oregano, red pepper, bell peppers, lemon peel, green onion) and hung it up to drain.

After a couple of hours it hadn't dripped for some time, so I rolled it in plastic wrap (not as densely formed as I'd have liked) and refrigerated it. I sampled it, of course. I think it will benefit from a day or two of flavor melding, but it's already pretty good. The rosemary in particular was still a little stiff and dry; I expect it will soften. Total yield was 24 ounces.

I saved the whey. I haven't tasted it yet, but my expectation is that it will not have the slightly lemony character that the last one did. It's just as yellow, though.

2009-03-18 update: It was good the next day, but the garlic was very strong and the rosemary was still a bit rigid. Two days later it has mellowed and the herbs are a little softer although still provide some contrasting texture. It's quite good as an accompaniment to bread or crackers. If I did this again I'd probably soak the herb blend in something to soften it. And this quantity for a party could easily be split into halves or thirds and herbed differently.

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