Project 16: Adding some culture

April 19, 2011

Pouring milk

The first ingredient in my cheese Pascha recipe is farmer’s cheese. During the 12 years that I have been making this dish the availability of commercial farmer’s cheese has varied. No two cheesemakers can even agree on what farmer’s cheese is. Eventually my husband, the homebrewer, realized that it would be easier for us to make our own rather than hunt through stores every year. We settled on a culture from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company (available for purchase locally at American Brewmaster) for a simple soft cheese called fromage blanc.

Fromage blanc culture

Making fromage blanc is simple: just add the culture to milk that is slightly warmer than room temperature, let sit, and drain. We started with four gallons of milk and four packets of culture to hopefully end up with the four pounds of farmer’s cheese I’ll need for my recipe.

Cheesemaking rig

First we heated the milk to 86 degrees in two stockpots outfitted with thermometers.

Adding culture

Then we added the culture to the warm milk and stirred it in thoroughly. Now we let the milk sit overnight so the culture can work its magic. Unlike yogurt, fromage blanc doesn’t care so much what the overnight temperature of the milk is. We just left the covered pots out on the counter.

Tomorrow: draining off the whey.

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