Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lemon Cheese

Since I buy milk directly from a dairy on a monthly contract, sometimes I end up with more milk than I can use. When the next delivery arrives, I've got to find creative uses for the excess.

Quite often, I make yogurt, but I don't always need more yogurt hanging around - I make it a quart at a time, and it lasts a while.

One thing that's always popular around here is cheese. I'm always lurking around the cheese counter when I go grocery shopping, and there are some nice varieties at the farmer's market, too. But that doesn't stop me from making my own once in a while.

While I've made more complicated cheeses, some days it's so much better to make something simple. It doesn't get much simpler than lemon cheese.

This cheese naturally clumps up into curd-like bits, but if you prefer a smooth cheese, just mix and mash it to break up the clumps and smooth it out. Either way is fine.

Lemon Cheese

1/2 gallon milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)

Heat the milk to 165 degrees, stirring as needed to keep it from scorching on the bottom.

Turn the heat off, add the lemon juice, and stir to combine.

Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.

Like a strainer or colander with several layers of cheesecloth and pour the mixture through. Note: the whey is great for making bread, so if you want to keep it, put a bowl under that strainer.

Let the liquid drain for a while, then gather the ends of the cheesecloth around the cheese and tie it. Leave the tied cheese in the strainer, put a bowl underneath to catch the drips, and put the whole thing in the refrigerator until it stops dripping.

Take the cheese out of the cheesecloth and put in in a bowl and break it up. Add the salt and stir to distribute the salt throughout the cheese. Taste, and add more salt if you like.

This cheese is great on crackers or on salads or mixed into pasta dishes. You can add herbs to it, if you like, but I prefer to add those sorts of flavorings as I use it, rather than flavoring a whole batch.