Queso Fresco is one of my all time favorite cheeses typically found on some Mexican/Latino dishes also known as Queso Blanco. You know that creamy, salty, and crumbly cheese shaped like a wheel you see at the store? It’s usually about $5.99. It’s kind of expensive for a cheese that has a short shelf life especially when you don’t have enough people to eat it up in time. Well, that’s just another reason to make homemade Queso Fresco, because it costs about half the price and fresh homemade cheese tastes ten times better. The key to this recipe is making sure you have the right tools ahead of time, which really require kitchen staples except for the lesser common kitchen thermometer and cheese cloth. Both of which you can easily find at your local grocery store today. Plus, making homemade cheese is kinda cool. It’s a lost art. It’s a fun sharing experience with friends and family. It makes for a great gift as well.
HOMEMADE QUESO FRESCO
Heat the milk in a nonreactive stockpot over medium heat to 195 F degrees, stirring occasionally to keep the milk from burning. Use a kitchen thermometer to measure the temperature along the way. It will take about 25 minutes to get the milk to temperature. Turn off heat.
Stir in the 1/3 cup vinegar using a whisk. Place the lid on and remove from heat. Let it sit for 10 minutes. The milk protein will coagulate into curds and the liquid whey will turn into a light green almost clear color. If the whey is still very cloudy and small pieces of curds then, add about another teaspoon of the distilled white vinegar. Stir with a rubber spatula.
Place a strainer over an extra large bowl. Line the strainer with a clean and damp cheese cloth folded in half making sure it drapes over the sides of the strainer. Slowly ladle the curds into the strainer and let drain for about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle the salt all over the top of the curds and using your hands gently toss the curds around to incorporate the salt evenly. Make sure to not break up the curds.
You'll want to let everything drain for about 45 minutes to an hour. You can tie up the cheese cloth and let it sit in the strainer with the bowl underneath removed that way the excess whey can escape. Or you can tie the corners of the cheese cloth to your sink faucet letting it hang.
Remove the mass of cheese from the cloth and place in an air tight container with a lid. Refrigerate for an hour.
Feel free to remove the cheese from the container and store in plastic wrap for about a week.