Monday, August 15, 2011

July's Au Lait du Mois: Queso Blanco

In an effort to catch up on my Au Lait du Mois and Pizza del Mese posts, I made queso blanco to use in August's Pizza del Mese. Stay tuned for that post coming tomorrow.

Queso Blanco is much like Panir - both use acid to precipitate the protein from the milk to form curds. The difference is that Queso Blanco uses vinegar as the acid where Panir uses lemon juice. As vinegar these days has a much more consistent pH than lemons, Queso Blanco is much more likely to work out for you than Panir. Ricki recommends apple cider vinegar, which is what I used this time. I've made this using red wine vinegar and it has a very different taste. If you've got different vinegars taking up room in your cabinets, try making a variety of queso blanco and have a tasting.
Queso Blanco adapted from Ricki Carroll's Gourmet Home Dairy Kit
  • 1/2 gal whole milk (I used unhomogenized pasteurized whole milk from Trader Joe's)
  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar
  • 2 qt. pot
  • Dairy Thermometer
  • Slotted spoon
  • Sieve
  • Bowl
  • Butter Muslin

  • Pour the milk into a 2 qt. pot and affix the thermometer in a readable position.
  • Heat the milk to between 185° and 190°F, stirring often to prevent scorching.
  • Meanwhile, set a sieve over a bowl and line the sieve with butter muslin.
  • Once the milk reaches about 185 degrees, slowly add the vinegar to the milk, a little at a time, until the curds separate from the whey. Usually 1/4 cup of vine­gar will precipitate as much as 1 gallon of milk. You may increase the temperature to 200°F in order to use less vinegar and avoid an acidic or sour taste in your cheese. (Do not boil, as boiling will impart a "cooked" flavor.)
  • Ladle the curds into the muslin-lined sieve. Tie the corners of the muslin into a knot and hang the bag to drain for several hours, or until the
    cheese has reached the desired consistency. As a busy Mom, I hung mine for about 24 hours.
  • Remove the cheese from the muslin. Store in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Previous Au Lait du Mois:

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Rebecca said...

I made some queso with lime juice (about 1/3 cup for 1/2 gallon milk) and it worked well and was tasty. I mixed it with some spinach, adzuki beans and hot sauce for a side dish. Tomorrow it's going with some corn in stuffed poblano peppers.

Sarah said...

If it was made with a citrus juice and not a vinegar, doesn't that technically make your cheese a panir relative more than a queso blanco relative? I'm surprised 1/3 C lime juice had enough acid to work well, but then again, what do I know about the pH of lime juice. I'm totally going to try lime juice cheese - I bet it would be awesome on my green tomatillo enchiladas.

Rebecca said...

My impression is that it's just the Spanish version of panir, but I'm not an expert so maybe the vinegar is required for it to be queso. I liked the taste and I didn't think I would like the vinegar flavor in my cheese.