In Japan, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is currently encouraging people to consume more milk, as dairy farmers who usually provide milk to schools are dealing with excess product due to the current school closures. Always ready to support a cause in need, we decided to add an extra liter of milk to our grocery shop, not to drink or have with cereal, though, but to make cheese.
While cheesemaking at home may sound like an arduous, complicated task, it’s really incredibly simple. And the recipe we’re sharing with you today uses just three main ingredients, making it so easy even beginners will be cheese masters overnight.
Ingredients (makes 300 grams of cheese)
Milk – 1 liter (4.2 cups)
Lemon – 2 large (3 if small)
Salt – 1 tablespoon
Olive oil – 2 cups (400 milliliters)
Black pepper, herbs, garlic, etc.
Items to prepare
Gauze or a tea towel
1. Put milk and salt into a pot and warm it gently until it reaches the same temperature as human skin.
2. While still on low heat, add the juice from one squeezed lemon and mix gently. At this point the acid from the lemon should cause the liquid to coagulate slightly, forming small clumps. If the mix doesn’t coagulate, add more juice from the second lemon. Once you see clumps begin to form in the mix, turn off the heat and leave it as it is on the stove.
Pro tip: lemons are easier to squeeze when heated.
If you’re having trouble squeezing lemon juice out of the lemons, cut the fruit in half, place on a plate and pop it into the microwave for about one minute at 600 watts.
▼ The heat will help soften the lemons, allowing you to extract the most juice from them.
3. Leave the mixture in the pot without heat for up to two hours to increase the number of cheese clumps in the mix.
- Place a gauze-lined colander in a bowl and pour the mixture onto the gauze. Squeeze to drain immediately or leave as it is to drain naturally for about half a day in the refrigerator.
Pro tip: The liquid that drains from the mixture is whey, which can be used in a variety of applications, from soaking grains to baking. It can even be used to make ricotta (which literally means “twice cooked”).
4. After draining, put the mix, with the gauze, into a container and refrigerate for half-a-day to a day to solidify. The mixture will become more compact if you leave it in the fridge overnight.
5. Remove the cheese from the refrigerator and cut it into 1-1.5 centimeter cubes.
At this point, you can either enjoy the cheese as it is or store it in the fridge and consume it within a week. To give it more flavor and a slightly longer shelf life, you can store it in olive oil. That’s what we’ve done here, by simply pouring olive oil into a couple of jars that have been sterilized with boiling water. Gently immerse the cheese pieces in the olive oil using your fingers or a pair of chopsticks. If you like, you can add herbs like rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and even garlic to add more flavor to the cheese.
Once stored in olive oil, the cheese will last for about two weeks. The fresh cheese has a slightly salty taste and soft, melty texture, and is particularly tasty when served with some of the olive oil it’s stored in and a sprinkling of cracked black pepper.
The cheese can be enjoyed as a snack on its own, or it can be spread on crackers or crumbled on toast, salads and pasta. Alternatively, if you store the jar of olive oil and cheese in the fridge, it will coagulate together to form a cheesy olive paste similar to olive butter, which can be easily spread on toast or sandwiches.
Using full cream milk gives the best results, as low-fat varieties will result in a more crumbly cheese, but this recipe can be used with a variety of milk options, including goat’s milk. There’s nothing more satisfying than making your own cheese at home and enjoying it on a cheese platter at the end of a long day.
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