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From the Kitchens of Pancho Villa has been awarded the honor of "WINNER" in the "Cookbooks: International" category of the 2014 International Book Awards!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Homemade Queso Fresco (Fresh Cheese)

One of the wonderful things I love about Mexico is the cheese.  I won't go into all the types today, but a really easy one to make is Queso fresco ~ fresh cheese.  Of course you could hop on down to the grocery store and buy one, but chances are it is not that fresh nor very appealing to look at. 

To me, this is one of life's little delicacies. It is a creamy, soft, and very mild unaged white cheese. Similar to panela cheese. The flavor is so mild that it picks up the flavors of other ingredients in your recipe.  So, it is wonderful used in a dip, spread, desserts, smoothies, you name it!  I often eat it plain on a cracker.  A word of warning, it does not melt. 

You can make any quantity you like.  This amount works well for my husband and me.  If you have larger cheese tastes, add more milk and some more vinegar.  The vinegar, by the way, does not impart it's flavor to the cheese.  In fact, you can barely taste it at all.  It just acts to coagulate the milk solids. 

2 quarts whole milk - quit rolling your eyes, yes you NEED whole milk
4 Tbls white vinegar
1 Tbls salt, kosher or sea salt

Heat the milk on very low heat to 195º F. The low heat will keep it from scorching. Stir in the vinegar and remove from the heat. Let it sit for 10 minutes. The milk will coagulate into curds and start to separate from the whey.  At this point, the whey will have a lovely green color.  I know, but green is IN and besides you are going to throw it away.  
Line a colander with 2 layers of cheesecloth.  Place in the sink.  Pour the curds and whey into the colander. Allow the curd to drain for about 30 minutes or until the curd has stopped dripping.  Now you are ready to remove the cheese from the cheesecloth. Wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or use immediately. 

NOTE:  If you like it dry, as I do, fold the cheesecloth over the cheese and press out the remaining liquid.  Try both to see if you like it moist (not wet) or dry.  

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