Mexican Queso Fresco - Queso Blanco
Makes two small cheese wheels
This cheese is a creamy fresh (un-aged) cheese, typically made from cow or goast’s milk
Queso fresco has many uses, and its crumbly texture is often enjoyed as a topping in many Mexican dishes and almost a staple in all Mexican tables.
Use it as you would feta or goat cheese (it works as a substitute for both in many cases).
Crumble it on sop
es, enchiladas, tacos, summer salads, it’s a great contrast to spicy dishes, but also works with fresh fruits and herbs, including a refreshing watermelon salad or a topping for your favorite soup.
In the United States, pasteurized queso fresco is common, but it's so easy to make at home that there's no reason to buy it.
Queso Fresco is made from warm milk that is curdled with an acid. It doesn't require rennet or other ingredients—vinegar or lemon juice will do the trick. Once the curds form, the whey is strained away and the curds can be pressed into a firmer cheese, or used in a creamy, spreadable form.
One advantage of making this cheese yourself is that you can control its texture. Queso Blanco curds can be "pressed" into a firmer cheese that can be sliced, crumbled, and even fried (this cheese does not "melt" but will get softer when heated). Or you can simply strain it with the cheesecloth and enjoy a creamier, more spreadable texture.
1/2-gallon whole milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup buttermilk
4 teaspoons kosher salt
4 to 5 tablespoons vinegar, such as apple cider or distilled white
In a large pot, combine the milk, whipping cream, buttermilk, and salt. Stir over medium heat until the temperature reaches 190 F (or nearly a boil). Remove from heat.
Stir in the vinegar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Small curds will begin to form. Stir gently for 5 minutes or so, then let the mixture cool for 10 more minutes.
Line a large colander with 1 to 2 layers of cheesecloth. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the colander, letting the whey (the clear liquid) drain away into a bowl.When most of the whey has drained off and the cheese is cool enough to handle, lift the edges of the cheesecloth up and twist, wrapping the cheese securely inside the cheesecloth. Squeeze off excess whey.
Hang the cheesecloth "bag" over the sink (use a clip to hang it from the faucet, for example) and let the whey drain for about an hour.
Once the cheese is well-drained, store the cheese in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Alternatively, you can press the curds by following the instructions below.
How to Press Curds for Firmer, Molded Cheese
Once the cheese curds are well drained, place a ring mold (or clean, empty metal can with both lids removed) on a baking sheet or flat dish. Spoon curds inside of the ring.
Cover the curds with a piece of wax paper, then use another can or something heavy to press down on them. Place the cheese in the refrigerator and press for 3 to 4 hours, or overnight.
Remove from the mold and wrap cheese with plastic wrap or place in an airtight container.
When molding the cheese, use a heavy object that will just fit inside the ring or can. One solution is to cut a circle of heavy cardboard that is just smaller than the ring's circumference. Place the cardboard circle on top of the wax paper to evenly distribute the weight, then use an object like a smaller can provide the weight on top.
Store cheese for up to one week in the refrigerator.
Enjoy the flavors of Mexico
Chef Martin Lopez