About queso blanco
Queso blanco(white cheese) is a simple, fresh cheese with Spanish origins. It is curdled with apple cider vinegar, not cultured. Like all simple, fresh cheeses it is best used within a week of making and does not store or age well.
Cow’s or goat’s milk can be used for making queso blanco. The milk can be raw or pasteurized. Whole milk produces the tastiest cheese and melts better. Always try to find grass-fed milk for the most health benefits. I am lucky to have a regular source of local, grass-fed, raw dairy products(all labelled “not for human consumption” as per FDA and USDA requirements, of course). I feel that raw milk makes a tastier fresh cheese than pasteurized milk.
Being a simple, fresh cheese means queso blanco is simple, easy and fast to make. Set aside 35-40 minutes to heat and curdle the milk, requiring attention only one minute out of five. Then another 1-1 1/2 hours to drain the curds which is all free time except for the first and last few minutes.
1 gallon whole milk, cow or goat 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
5-6 quart stainless steel or enamel stock pot Large collander
Piece of cheesecloth large enough to cover colander when doubled
Large stainless steel slotted spoon Thermometer
1.Place the milk in the pot and heat to 195-degrees over medium heat. This should take approximately 30 minutes. Stir with the slotted spoon every few minutes to avoid scorching the milk on the bottom of the pot.
2. Turn off the heat and stir the vinegar into the hot milk with up/down strokes of the spoon. Avoid circular stirring which might clump the curds in the center of the pot.
3. Remove the pot from the stove and let sit 5-10 minutes for curd formation. Do not stir or disturb the pot during this time.
4. Place the pot in a sink and carefully pour off as much whey(liquid) as possible. Use the slotted spoon to help hold the curds in the pot.
5. Sprinkle the sea salt over the curds in the pot and gently but thoroughly fold in with a rubber or silicone spatula.
6. Line the colander with double-thickness cheesecloth and place in a sink. Pour the curds in the pot into the center of the cheesecloth and let drain a few minutes.
7. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth around the curds, tie together and hang over a sink or pot for 1-1 1/2 hours to drain and solidify.
8. Place the finished cheese in an air-tight container and refrigerate. It should be used within one week.
See some of the nutritional and digestive advantages of cheese over drinking fresh milk at this link.
All simple fresh cheeses use an acid to separate the curds from the whey. Queso blanco uses apple cider vinegar. Also see my Indian paneer cheese recipe using lemon juice for the acid.