It's all about cheese

It's all about cheese

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Other easy cheeses

Quark, aka curd cheese, aka fromage frais is a type of cream cheese that tastes nothing like the cream cheese named after a city and manufactured by those who like to mess with your foods. It is one of the most popular cheeses in Germany for baked cheesecake but is also tasty on a slice of bread and covered with jam. Many like it as a dessert mixed with fruit, and others prefer it with some fresh herbs on bread for dinner. It's delicious when served plain with boiled potatoes and a green salad, too.

If you have access to raw milk, use the following recipe:

1 gallon of raw milk, divided into two equal parts

Refrigerate one half of the milk; you'll need it tomorrow. Pour the other half of the milk into a flat dish and keep in a warm place (76-80F) overnight. The milk should have a much thicker consistency now. If it doesn't, add 4-5 drops of lemon juice, stir, and wait another 3-4 hours.

Pour this thickened milk into a large pot and add the milk from the fridge. Keep in a warm water bath in the sink until the mixture heats up to about 95 degrees. If it's a couple of degrees warmer, it won't matter, but make sure it doesn't heat up much more than 95F, or else you'll end up with a cheese that's good for cooking only. Keep it at this temperature for half an hour to an hour, after which time you'll notice the whey separating from the curds if you carefully stab it with a knife. Let it rest for another 10 minutes, then pour the mixture into a sieve/colander lined with cheesecloth over a pot. That way, you can use the whey, which is quite nutritious. You can boil your pasta in whey, for example, or make bread and replace the water called for in the recipe with whey. Or cool it, then add a spoonful of honey and the juice of a lemon to have a refreshing drink.

Once the whey stops running, hang your cheese in the cheesecloth for about 3-4 hours from a hook or from the tap. Then it's ready to eat.

If you don't have access to raw milk, use this recipe:

1/2 gallon of milk
1 quart buttermilk
1 quart kefir

Mix all ingredients in a large pot, put in water bath and heat to 95F. Proceed the same way as with raw milk.


1 quart whipping cream or heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon citric acid (any Indian grocery store should have it if you don't want to order online)

Heat cream to 165F. Heat it slowly or else it'll scorch. Dissolve the citric acid in 1/4 cup of warm water. Add to cream (it'll separate now into curds and whey) and stir for 10 minutes. Pour into cheesecloth-lined colander. Hang it for a couple of hours.


Yogurt is very easy to make at home. All you need is a small tub of Greek yogurt (or any proper yogurt, the ingredients of which should be nothing but milk and cultures; if it contains pectin or gelatin or even inedible items such as HFCS, it isn't yogurt.) and a quart of milk. Mix the yogurt with the milk, then keep at about 75F for 6-12 hours. A yogurt maker is handy for this, but by no means essential. If the day's high temperature is above 75f, keep it on your balcony for a few hours, just make sure it's well covered. Likewise, if the night's low is 75F, put it on the balcony or outside the door at night, and when you wake up you'll have yogurt. If you live in a cold climate, set your oven to 75F (if it's 5 degrees more, it really doesn't matter) to provide the ideal temperature.

Stretching your store-bought sour cream works in the same way, except use half and half instead of milk.


No matter the spelling, this is a Middle Eastern soft cheese with a creamy texture. It's typically served with olive oil and fresh herbs mixed in.

1 quart fresh yogurt
1/2 teaspoon good quality salt (at the very least, use unrefined sea salt; unrefined rock salt is less polluted, and pink Himalaya salt gives you the benefit of containing all minerals and trace elements found in human blood)
extra-virgin olive oil to taste (start off with about a tablespoon, then add as needed)

Mix the yogurt with salt, then pour into a cheesecloth-lined colander. Leave for an hour or so, then hang the cheesecloth from a hook so the yogurt loses more whey. After 12-24 hours, it'll have the consistency of a creamy cheese. Add olive oil and herbs of your choice. Or form into small balls and store in jars fully covered in olive oil. When stored that way, it'll keep for weeks at room temperature.

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