Fresh cheeses are commonly made at home in many countries of the world.
Dairy Farmers of Canada
Fresh cheeses are commonly made at home in many countries of the world. They are known by many names, including cottage cheese, pot cheese, ricotta (Italy), paneer (India), fromage blanc or fromage frais (France), mizithra (Greece), quark (Germany), and queso blanco (Mexico).
Aged (or ripened) cheeses are usually made by skilled cheesmakers and take considerably more time to prepare.
There are several basic steps in making cheese.
- The first step is acidification and coagulation. Acidification can be accomplished by adding lemon juice or vinegar, or by culturing the milk with lactic acid-producing bacteria such as those found in buttermilk. Coagulation, or forming the curd, may occur simply as a result of acidification, or in many cheeses, by the addition of a coagulating enzyme such as rennet.
- The second step is to cut and drain the curds. At this stage of cheesemaking, depending on the cheese being made, the curds may also be kneaded, pressed, cooked or salted.
- The final stage of cheesemaking is ripening the curds. This step is omitted for fresh cheeses.
Want to make your own cheese?
We recommend starting with paneer. This is a unique cheese in that it will not melt when cooked. In Indian cuisine, the unpressed version is used in dessert dishes, while the pressed version is typically fried or grilled and used as an ingredient in many dishes, in much the same way that tofu is used in Chinese cuisine. In Persian cuisine, this fresh cheese is sliced and served as a side dish with fresh herbs.
Ricotta, like paneer, can also be set with lemon juice. If you want a little bit more of a challenge, try fromage blanc. This cheese requires a buttermilk starter and rennet. Start with sterilized equipment to ensure good results. Use stainless steel, enamel-lined or glass pots and bowls.