week 9: eating her curds & whey

Say Käsespätzle!
homemade spaetzle & cheese

The pantry is getting bare. Only a few cans left. An odd half package of rice noodles. The basic vinegars & oils that form the base of most of our meals. Containers of bulk goods. Our packaging is finally decreasing. It’s been a long process, but we’re getting there. This week, to cut down on the plastic containers coming home, I grabbed a gallon of milk. One plastic container. Multiple kinds of cheese. I did it. I finally mustered up the courage to make cheese.

The gallon of milk was about $5, and the cheese cloth was $2 (but it’s enough for two goes). So, for $6 we got a large container of fromage blanc–perfect for pizzas, spreads, pressed & crumbled feta style, or used as ricotta. Insanely versatile, and enough to mold the cheese into a couple different styles.

I wasn’t sure if I’d feel like I was saving money, but when I opened the cheese cloth & saw the amount of cheese I was happily surprised. Will I do it every week? Doubtful. But it’s definitely more affordable & sustainable (way less packaging–just the gallon jug–and far fewer food miles if you get locally sourced milk).

I basically followed this Earth Eats process, mixed with a few tips I found on online forums. (Her directions were a little vague.) I did not take pictures of the process; it is not pretty.

My final white cheese-making process

  1. Pour 1 gallon of fresh whole milk into a large stock pot*. Turn to medium-low heat.
  2. Heat until the milk is 185 degrees F. Don’t rush this process. Babysit the milk. Stir it frequently. Let the temperature rise gradually so you don’t scald it & you avoid a skin.
  3. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar, gradually. The milk will immediately begin to separate. Give the milk a light stir.
  4. Walk away. Let the milk sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Drape your cheese cloth into a colander. Put the colander over a large bowl. With a slotted spoon, scoop out all the loose, wet cheese curds. There will be a lot of whey & a lot of curds. Just keep scooping.
  6. Let the curds drain in the colander for 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Tie the cheese cloth into a tight knot, like a little sack holding all the cheese. Stick a spoon through the knot & suspend it over your large bowl, and place it in the fridge. Let the cheese rest over night.
  8. Wake up to magical, beautiful, fromage blanc.

*I used my enameled Le Creuset, because it heats evenly & is mostly nonstick. Everything I’ve read suggests stainless steal stock pots. I just think it’s best to avoid teflon.

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About meganbetz

human geography PhD Student at Indiana University; wife, reader, writer, baker, gardener
This entry was posted in Personal Project and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to week 9: eating her curds & whey

  1. Amber says:

    Where can one get a cheese cloth?

    • meganbetz says:

      I got mine at Bloomingfoods. Most health food & kitchen supply stores have it, and any grocery with a pretty good bulk section usually has some sitting around. Hope you try it, Amber! Seriously the most painless process for LOADS of cheese.

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