Easy Goat’s Milk Cheese: Queso Blanca

http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/queso-blanco-zbcz1310.aspx

goatsI love goats’ milk.  That is, fresh goats’ milk.  Not the nasty stuff you buy in stores.  Goats’ milk is like the very best cows’ milk with sugar added.  It’s sweet and creamy, and not at all “goaty.” If the milk tastes “off,” the milk is spoiled, the goat has a health problem, or the goat is one of those breeds such as Toggenburgs that produces strong milk for goat cheese.  I remember when I first milked Annie after her owner traded me her for four chickens.  I had read goat’s milk was tasty, but until I tasted it, I really didn’t know what I was missing.  My husband was hesitant at first but when he tasted the milk, he became an instant advocate.  Yes, it’s that good.

When you're blessed with goats who produce lots of luscious, creamy milk, it's easy to want to do something with the milk besides freezing it.  Hence, I make homemade cheese.  Cheese keeps well, compared to goat’s milk, which has a tendency to go “off” after a few days, even with light pasteurization.  What’s more, goat cheese freezes exceedingly well, making it perfect for those of us who are self-sufficient minded.

When I have too much milk and I’m not in the mood to feed it to the chickens, I’ll make what has to be the closest thing to a foolproof cheese.  It’s a simple recipe and requires minimal effort on your part, you’ll use it time and again when you’re in a rush and have too much milk.  It goes by several names, depending on whose recipe you use.  Whether you call it palak paneer, vinegar cheese, mozzarella (it’s not really), or Queso Blanco, it’s a great confidence builder when making cheese.  I usually call it Queso Blanco, which means "white cheese." 

1 gallon of goats’ milk

¼ cup organic or homemade apple cider vinegar

1 tsp salt (Optional, but makes it taste better and retards spoilage.  I use Real Salt from Utah)

Heat 1 gallon of goats’ milk on the stove to near boiling (about 185F to 190F). 

Remove from heat. 

Add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or more, if necessary to make the curds) and stir with a slotted spoon.

Once the curds form, scoop them from the whey with a slotted spoon and put them in a butter muslin bag to drain. 

Optional: add salt.  I added salt to them, which makes the cheese taste oh-so-much better. 

Hang the bag or put it in a colander and let drain in the sink, gently squeezing out the whey occasionally for about 6 hours or overnight. 

Cheese is ready to eat or for cooking.

So, what do you do with this cheese?  Queso blanco is a mild cheese that has the consistence of ricotta salada and the taste of mild mozzarella. It will take on the flavors of whatever you’re cooking it with.  This cheese doesn’t melt as much as traditional cheeses, making it ideal for paneer in Indian food, and even pizza. I use it in Italian recipes alongside mozzarella, in soups, in salads crumbled like feta, and in stir fry to take the place of tofu.  If you need a protein and calcium boost to your food, this cheese is the answer.

Margaret H. (Maggie) Bonham is an animal expert and professional writer, editor, and publisher. Visit her blog at eatingwildmontana.blogspot.com.