The milk for cheesemaking needs to be fresh – no older than 48 hours. Ask at your grocery store when milk is delivered and try to buy it the same day. You will need two pots for this recipe: an 8-qt/7.5-L pot for the milk and a 2-qt/2-L pot for the buttermilk. Including crème fraîche adds a richer flavor and smoother consistency.
Sue Conley & Peggy Smith, Cowgirl Creamery Cooks, Chronicle Books (2013). Photography by Hirsheimer & Hamilton.
- 4 qt (3.8L) Fresh whole milk (pasteurized or raw)
- 4 cups (960 ml) Pasteurized buttermilk
- 1 drop Rennet
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- ½ cup (120 ml) Crème fraîche (optional)
- First add 1 tbsp bleach to a large pot or sink full of cool water and use it to sanitize all equipment, including bowls and spoons. Even in a home kitchen, you need to take this step because bacteria present on the equipment can prevent your cheese from setting.
- In an 8-qt/7.5-L pot, heat the fresh whole milk to 90°F/32°C. (If using raw milk, pasteurize it first by heating the milk to 145°F/63°C and adjusting your stove heat as needed to keep the milk at that temperature for 30 minutes, stirring constantly.)
- In the 2-qt/2-L stainless-steel pot, heat the buttermilk to 90°F/32°C. Gently stir the buttermilk into the whole milk. While still stirring, add the rennet. Stir gently for 2 minutes, making sure that the rennet and buttermilk are evenly distributed. Take the pot off the heat, cover it and wrap it in a large towel to keep the milk at a stable temperature. Let the wrapped pot rest in a warm place for 10 to 12 hours. A turned off oven is a good place to set the curd.
- By morning, the milk should have set and will have the texture of a very firm yogurt. Line a colander with cheesecloth or muslin and rest it over a large pot. Using a mug or plastic tub, scoop the curd into the colander and allow to drain for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours, until the curds have drained to a soft, smooth consistency. When they are ready, turn the curds into a stainless-steel mixing bowl and add the salt. Stir in crème fraîche (if using). Store in an airtight, nonreactive container made of plastic, glass or stainless steel. The cheese will keep in your refrigerator for up to 10 days but is best eaten within a few days.
- You’ve just made a simple lactic-acid coagulated cheese; the lactic acid in this cheese is in the buttermilk.
- We get our rennet from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. You can use their vegetable- or animal-based rennet. Both will work.
- This fromage blanc turns into an infinitely customizable spread. You can flavor it endlessly for an easy and delicious condiment for appetizers or breakfast muffins. Try different combinations of herbs, spices, fruit, chocolate, etc., or try Cowgirl Creamery’s Chocolate-Espresso Fromage Blanc Spread to start.