As much as I like real food and blogging, I don’t really consider myself a “food blogger.”
Food bloggers make beautiful food and showcase it with stunning photography on their blogs.
Me? I’m lucky if I can get my homemade tortillas to remotely resemble a circular-like shape, and if I can make a entire batch that doesn’t have any holes, I’m thrilled.
However, sometimes I still like to pretend I’m fancy, so it’s kinda fun to say Fromage Blanc with a ultra-sophisticated accent.
But let’s face it- as fancy as the name is, this cheese is just as down-to-earth as I am.
It’s pretty much cheese-in-a-bag. Oh yeah, that’s what I’m talking about… 😉
There are a million-and-one versions of this cheese floating around the ‘net. Some folks mistakenly call it “cream cheese,” but that’s not entirely accurate, since it doesn’t call for cream. (Get my DIY cream cheese recipe here.)
However, it closely resembles cream cheese in color, taste, and texture- thought it might not be *quite* as creamy.
You can also make a version of this cheese using yogurt, although the yogurt version will be slighly tangier.
Regardless of how you want to make it, it is the ultimate beginner cheese- and it’s raw and cultured, so it’s good for ya, too.
Homemade Cultured Soft Cheese (Fromage Blanc)
- 1/2 gallon of cow or goat milk *see my note below regarding milk
- 1/8 teaspoon of mesophilic culture (buy mesophilic culture on Amazon (affiliate link)
- 1 drop double-strength liquid rennet, diluted in 1/4 cup cool water (Buy rennet on Amazon (affiliate link))
Bring your milk to around 80 degrees. Or, if you have just come into the house from milking, strain the fresh milk and use it right away without heating.
(You aren’t trying to cook or pasteurize anything, but the mesophilic culture you are using appreciates warmish temps.)
Pour the warm milk into a glass jar. Sprinkle the mesophilic culture over the top of the milk, and gently stir. Then gently mix in the rennet/water mixture- do not over mix it.
Cover the jar loosely, and allow to culture at room temperature for 24 hours. (I use a small piece of fabric and a rubber band to cover mine.)
At the end of the culturing period, the milk will have set up and look somewhat like yogurt. You may see some whey starting to separate, and that’s OK.
Dump the curd into a piece of cheesecloth (check out my ideas for improvised cheesecloth– works like a charm!) and tie into a bag. Hang this bag and allow the whey to drain out for 4-6 hours.
For smaller cheese recipes like this one, I’ve found this drip set-up to be the easiest: I simply tie the ends of the bag into a knot around a wooden spoon, and then place the spoon over the mouth of a large pitcher. The pitcher collects the whey with minimal mess.
You *can* also hang the bag from cabinet door handles using a rubber band, but that can cause your doors to warp over time, so I wouldn’t do it too much. (And I really don’t want to mess up my lovely new painted cabinets…)
Store the finished cheese in the fridge– it should last at least a week– although probably longer.
So now what do I do with it?
Lots of stuff!
Spread it on bagels, toast, or muffins.
Melt into scrambled eggs.
Use it in recipes that call for cream cheese- Some people even make a cheesecake-like dessert using soft cheese.
You can also make your own flavored spreads. Add sea salt, dried/fresh herbs, or chopped nuts for a savory treat. Or, sweeten it up to serve with desserts.
For one of our favorite variations, simply sweeten the cheese to taste with real maple syrup, and then add a teaspoon or so of orange zest. It’s wonderful on pancakes, waffles, or anything else you can think of!
- Wondering what to do with all of the leftover whey? (You’ll end up with over a quart of it) Don’t toss it! I have a whole list of ideas for you.
- I have only ever used raw, whole milk for this recipe– either goat or cow is fine. You can use pasteurized milk for this recipe if you wish, but definitely avoid the ultra-pasteurized stuff.
- Want to use yogurt in this recipe instead? Easy! Just dump a quart of yogurt into your cheesecloth instead of the cultured curds/whey. Drain 4-6 hours, and there ya go.
- If you don’t have double-strength rennet, use 2 drops of regular rennet instead.
- The cheese in my pictures is a little lumpier than normal– usually it’s a slightly smoother consistency. I had to shorten my dripping period because I needed to take pictures, so I think that had something to do with it.
If you are new to cheesemaking, this is a wonderful place to start. And you’ll feel super sophisticated when you can say, “I made Fromage Blanc today…” 🙂
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