Ever Since I watched the pre-class video of Sandor Katz talking about fermentation and knowing that we would have to choose a method of preservation to try, two of my biggest passions – beer and cheese – were stuck in my mind.
As I don’t have the time necessary to make my first beer (we have 3 weeks for this assignment and all good beer recipes I found needed at least 4 weeks) I chose the cheese as my first experiment.
I’ve always thought that cheese making was a very magical and mysterious type of art. I’m a cheese addicted and up until we had our preservation class, making cheese seemed like a super hard process to me. The whole process continues to be a magical art for me, but now I know I can try it too since the most incredible and mysterious part is not in our hands, but in the amazing thinny little creatures that make all the magic happen.
I chose my raw product and my method: milks and fermentation. I started researching all the types of cheeses that we can possibly make(1) and decided to make a Minas Frescal cheese. The Minas Frescal is a Brazilian fresh cheese, very typical on the Southeast of Brazil and that I’ve being missing A LOT, so why not try to make my own Minas Frescal since I can’t find it here? 😉
After doing a lot of research my recipe was inspired by this channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELLYrG7veHw
As the main ingredient, the quality of the milk is always going to affect the final product, so choose your milk wisely ! And of course, we need at least a little bit of fat to make a good cheese, so forget that skim milk LOL.
MINAS FRESCAL CHEESE
[ yields: around 700g]
16-20 drops of rennet
¼ cup water
> of non household material, this recipe requires cheese mold, cheesecloth (if you want to age the cheese) and a kitchen thermometer, but you can usually find everything in any kitchen supply store. I couldn’t buy the cheese mold since it was sold out at the store I went to so I made my cheese in an aluminum mold for baking and did some small holes in it. It was not as nice as I would like it to be, but it works – LOL)
Heat all the milk until it reaches 38ºC (about 100ºF). Take the pan out of the heat, add the rennet to the ¼ cup of water, mix well and add this mix to the milk. Mix well, cover and let it sit for 45 minutes in the warmer place of your kitchen ( I put mine in the oven – but it was OFF!).
After this time a firm layer is formed (this is the curd) in the pan. Cut this layer in squares and wait 15 minutes before whisking this layer/squares and heating it again to 50ºC (122ºF).
Take it out of the heat again, let it cool a little bit and with the help of a strainer, take the excess liquid and put the cheese curd into your cheese mold. Make sure to press to take out the excess liquid from the curd in the mold as well (turn from time to time the side of the cheese a couple of times while you press).
When the cheese is all in the mold, let it sit for 15 minutes while you prepare the water+salt solution (mix 1L of water with 180g of salt, that’s your brine). When your cheese is firm enough, take it out of the mold and put in your water+salt solution for 1 hour.
After that your cheese is ready to eat, or you can put it in the “warmer” part of your fridge covered with cheesecloth to age. Your cheese would change flavors as the bacterias keep working on it <3 😉
Long story short: I’m in love with this cheese. It is like having a small piece of home back. <3
(*)The cheese was delicious!! The only issue for me was that in the original recipe that served as inspiration for my cheese it instructed to make a solution with 180g of salt for 1L of water. It immediately seemed like too much to me, so in my recipe I used 140g of salt for 1L of water. After tasting my cheese I still think 140g is too much salt, so next time I’m making this recipe (yes, this is going to be a weekly recipe for sure!) I’ll adjust and try it with 100g of salt for each 1L of water. I think it will be way better and I’ll update this post with the result!