This is a cheese of many names- french cream cheese, chevre if made with goats milk, or bovre from cows milk. The germans call it Quark and in my family...well we mostly call it soft cream cheese.
One of the simplest cheeses to make that has a relatively long shelf life in the fridge for fresh cheese, 3 weeks! I appreciate that it takes so little effort AND it uses whole milk, vs cream cheese that uses a lot of cream. And its yield is not shabby- almost 2 pounds from a gallon.
(I made this cake, from Seven Season on Stowel lake Farm, with this cream cheese!)
I really love using natural cultures for making cheese, HOWEVER, I have not made it work for this cheese. I just couldnt get the desired texture. I stretch my freeze dried cultures by saving a quart jar of whey from cheesemaking with the mesophillic culture, to use as starter culture for future batches of cheese. As long as you're saving a new round of culture every 2-3 weeks, you can keep this going for a long time.
I havent tried this with pasteurized milk but my gut tells me it will work.
Start this cheese in the evening, thats your best timing. I prefer to make it with milk still warm from the evenings milk but you can just as easily warm up milk for it. I just love the process of taking a fresh warm gallon of milk from my Mossy girl and starting a batch.
You can then take this and make a cheesecake, either baked or unbaked. I love the recipe in Seven Season on Stowel Lake Farm, or you try it with your favourite cheesecake recipe. The internet is your oyster!
You can also add something like my ranch dip mix, I'd say same proportions of 1 tablespoon to 1 cup, and make it herb and garlic cream cheese! What an inexpensive way to make a whole lot of a high value grocery item. That would also make a good gift, or make it to serve at a party with fresh bread.
Quark: A Soft Cream Cheese
- 1 gallon whole milk warmed to 85F.
- ⅛ teaspoon mesophillic or flora danica freeze dried culture
- OR ¼ cup whey saved from a batch of cheese using one of the above cultures (the whey keeps well for a few weeks in the fridge)
- 2 drops animal rennet diluted in 2 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Add your culture to your warmed milk- if its powdered, sprinkle on top and let sit 5 minutes before stirring in. If its whey, just stir it in.
- Put your rennet into the water to dilute it, then pour it into the milk and stir well. Its okay if you accidentally get 3 or 4 drops of rennet, but go slow and try to get it as close as possible.
- Cover your milk and let it sit around 12 hours, or overnight. I usually average 14 hrs by the time I get around to dealing with it the next morning.
- Cut your curds in a 1 inch grid- to do so, cut one inch strips in one direction, then the other to make an approximate grid. Let it sit a couple minutes, and get your cheese cloth ready.
- I prefer to use cotton muslin fabric, actual cheesecloth is awful! You'll need about an 18" square or bigger to strain a gallon of milk. I drape it in a bowl or pot, and then pour the curds into the cheese cloth.
- Take the corners and tie it up, then hang the cheese, overtop of the bowl/pot, in whatever fashion you can mcgyver. From a pot rack...from a cupboard knob...on a wooden spoon hung between two cupboard handles.
- Let it strain 6-8 hrs. If you're making bigger batches you'll need on the longer side. On the shorter side yields a softer cheese. If you want, you can gently stir the curds within the cloth a couple times, but its not neccessary.
- When its done hanging, take the cheesecloth down, dump it into a bowl and stir in your salt. If you're using a premixed seasoning like ranch dip mix, dont add additional salt.
- The salt acts as a preservative so unless you plan to use it within a day or two, I highly recommend salting it.
- Put it into a container in the fridge, and get excited to use it!
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