Creating fromage blanc or chèvre requires purchasing a direct-set culture (see Cheesemaking Supplies, following the recipe), and both cheeses will need about 2 days lead time before they will be ready to eat. If you use goat’s milk, you’ll have chèvre; cow’s milk will make fromage blanc. The texture of either ranges from creamy to crumbly; draining longer makes a more crumbly cheese. Yield: about 1 1/2 pounds.
1 gallon goat’s milk or cow’s milk
1 packet direct-set fromage blanc or chèvre culture (or 1/4 tsp mesophilic culture plus 1 drop liquid rennet diluted in 1 tbsp cool water)
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste (optional)
1. Heat milk. In a heavy-bottom, nonreactive pot, heat the milk over medium-low to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir continuously to prevent scorching. Remove from heat.
2. Acidify milk. Milk separates into curds and whey when it is acidified. The warmer the milk, the less acidic it will need to be to separate. When the milk has reached the proper temperature, remove the milk from the heat and add the recipe’s specified acid or bacterial culture that produces its own acid. If the recipe calls for a powdered bacterial culture, sprinkle it over the milk and leave the mixture alone for a minute before beginning to stir gently and continuously for a few minutes. Leave the pot alone for 10 to 20 minutes before draining. Sprinkle the culture over the milk and leave the mixture alone for a minute before beginning to stir gently and continuously for a few minutes. Let sit at room temperature until a uniform mass of curd has pulled away from the side of the pot and there is a clear layer of whey over the top.
3. Drain curds. Line a colander with damp cheesecloth and set it over a large bowl or in the sink. Ladle curds into the cloaked colander to drain for 30 minutes. After the initial draining, you may salt the cheese by sprinkling salt over the curds and stirring to distribute.
Let curds stand about 30 minutes, then sprinkle salt (if desired) over the surface and stir to distribute. To hang the cheese to drain, tie the corners of the cheesecloth into a knot (or use a rubber band) and hang the cheese over the sink or a bowl to catch the whey. Hang and drain the cheese for 6 to 12 hours at room temperature, or shape the cheese (see next step).
4. Optional: Shape cheese. Spoon the curd into perforated cheese forms after it has drained in a colander for 30 minutes. Allow forms to drain on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet for 6 to 12 hours. Shaped cheeses may then be rolled in spices or herbs before serving.
5. Store cheese. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 weeks. Because you added a bacterial culture, the cheese’s flavor will develop over the first few days of refrigerator aging. You can freeze the cheese for up to 6 months. If freezing, do not salt in step 3; rather, season the thawed cheese before serving.
Interested in other homemade cheese recipes? Read How to Make Fresh Cheese: The Basic Steps.
You’ll find cultures, cheesecloth, thermometers and other cheese-crafting necessities at the following mail-order companies.
Photo by Tim Nauman: Roll logs of chevre (made from goat's milk) and fromage blanc (made from cow's milk) in herbs to serve with bread and fruit.