Unlike yogurt cheese — this is a “real” cheese for which you use rennet and everything.
There’s a biology/chemistry professor in Cincinnati who has a terrific website about making cheese, and I followed his instructions for “Neufchatel” cheese. (Although I did half a recipe — I didn’t use all my weekly milk share.)
This was really interesting — first you gently heat the milk, add a little souring agent (I used yogurt) and a tiny bit of rennet dissolved in water. Then you let it sit overnight. By morning, you have curds — which to me looked exactly like very soft fresh tofu — that same sort of slippery, shiny texture. You cut the curds — the instructions said to cut them into fairly big pieces — and then ladle it all into a collander lined with cheesecloth. You twist the cheesecloth so the cheese is in a tight ball, secure it with a rubber band, and hang it to drain. I used my deepest stockpot, and suspended the cheese from a wooden spoon balanced on the top of the pot. The whey collected in the pot, and I could put the whole thing in the pantry where it’s cool.
The only mistake I made was not being patient enough. I didn’t let the cheese hang long enough, and although I tried some on toast, I didn’t like the texture. It was still weirdly slippery. So I put it back in the cheesecloth and let it hang for another seven or eight hours. That did the trick — the texture is now somewhat like a nice fresh goat cheese. It’s not quite as chalky, probably because Isabelle’s Jersey cows give very rich milk, but neither does it have that gummy quality of commercial cream cheese. It’s very fresh tasting, with a nice clean milk taste, that is just a tiny bit sour (in the way yogurt is a little sour — not sour like milk that’s off, just sour like milk that’s been fermented).
I’m very pleased with my first cheese. Who knows? Maybe this will be my recession plan — I’ll learn to make cheese. Considering the way things are going, I might need to …