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Aug 21, 2008 12:00 PM

Fresh, Soft Summer Cheese (Val, this one's for you)

For years, I have made a soft creamy cheese that resembles a commercial Boursin or Allouette for a couple of reasons:
1. I can
2. It is MUCH less expensive
3. It is very tasty and versatile

People are often astounded at the idea of "OMG, you MADE cheese!" yet almost nothing could be simpler. It just takes some planning and some milk and some refrigerator space.

I will list the procedure for savoury, but this can also be made in a sweetened version. Just eliminate the garlic and substitute other flavors.

Savoury Summer Cheese

2 quarts 1/2 & 1/2
4-6 TBLS buttermilk, the fresher the better
6 cloves of smashed garlic, tied in cheesecloth
Asst finely chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil & chives are my standards)

In a non-reactive container, heat 1/2 & 1/2 to 105 -110 degrees F. Stir in buttermilk and add garlic bag. Let sit in a warm place - kitchen counter, warming drawer, etc - until it clabbers. Wait another hour.
Line a colander with several pieces of cheesecloth or a well-washed linen dish towel. Drain over a large bowl for about 1 hour. Put bowl (under colander) into refrigerator and continue to drain for 24-48 hours, depending on the amount of time you have and thickness of cheese you desire. Longer draining time = thicker cheese.
Remove garlic bag and squeeze to extract all flavor. Add SPTT and herbs. Taste and adjust seasonings. This will keep for about one werek in the fridge but mine never lasts that long.

For the Sweet Version, AKA Coeur a la Creme:
Instead of garlic, add one vanilla bean to the 1/2 & 1/2. Let steep as directed and follow directions for draining.
Stir in:
Confectioner's Sugar
Grated Orange Zest
Serve with berries or fresh lemon pound cake. It's not half bad with granola & fruit as a breakfast parfait either.

NOTE: I save the whey for bread-baking. Also, if I make a lot of this cheese, I'll make ricotta with the leftover whey.

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  1. I'm curious... I've made a version of ricotta using milk and buttermilk (or milk and vinegar), which leaves a lot of whey behind. How do you turn your leftover whey into ricotta?

    1 Reply
    1. re: leanneabe

      leanneabe, I made "real" ricotta just because I was curious about the process. Yes, it leaves an enormous of whey and I only do this when I have A LOT of whey left because the yield is so low. Making ricotta w/ milk & buttermilk leaves whey but re-cooking the plain whey leaves much, much more.

      Bring whey to an almost-boil, right about 200 degrees, with small bubbles around the edges. Let set and as the clumps form, gently skim them off. Drain as usual, refrigerate, etc.

      FYI: 10 C of whey made less than 1 C of cheese.

      I think by the time the whey has been used twice, most of the nutrients have disappeared and there's not a lot left to bother with.

    2. Wow, Sherri! How nice of you...thank you...I don't know squat about making cheese, though...what does "clabber" mean? Something like curdle maybe? What should it LOOK like at that stage? I may try this especially since you took the time to type it all out (((sherri)))...I just bought some buttermilk but of couse will need to obtain half & I have no biggie...might be a fun project for this weekend!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Val

        Val, "clabber" is when all the milk proteins come together. It will look like a large pot of yogurt -- the milk solids almost "gelatinized" and beginning to pull away from the edge of the container with a small amount of liquid at the outside edge. If you're unsure about whether this has happened, give it a couple of shakes. It should move en masse and not slosh around like liquid. Maybe "thickened" is a better word than "clabber" for you.

        The timing is very flexible, depending on several factors not the least of which include ambient temperature of the room and freshness of buttermilk's enzymes. In my experience, fresh works more quickly than three week old buttermilk.

        Val, FYI, I have done this with many different types of milk. I just like the higher fat content of the 1/2 & 1/2 over whole milk, plus, you get more cheese as the water in the milk strains out. When I made this with non-fat milk there was a very small amount of cheese and not worth the effort, time and expense IMO.

        No cheesecloth = no problem. Line the colander with something that will allow the whey to pass through while keeping the milk solids in place. Since I have a drawer full of old linen tea towels, I use those. You could use a pillowcase or well-washed Tshirt -- as long as no dye is involved and it is very clean. Do NOT use a terrycloth kitchen towel!

        One of the reasons this is such a good project for cheese beginners is there is success and it does not involve buying odd ingredients/equipment that you may or may not ever use again. Good Luck over the weekend and let us know how it goes.

        P.S. our breakfast blueberries w/ vanilla-honey cheese this morning was outstanding!

      2. Hi Sherri

        This loks great - thanks for sharing.

        Have you tried clabbering with lemon juice instead of buttermilk? I ask, because I know both can be used in making ricotta, and lemon juice is cheaper and always available at my house...

        1 Reply
        1. re: Gooseberry

          I have never tried lemon juice for making this summer cheese. That doesn't mean it won't work, it just means that I have never used it.

          The consistency is quite different from ricotta, creamy rather than individual curds. Think yoghurt. I do use lemon juice or vinegar when making ricotta however.

          If you do give it a try with lemon juice, please post with results. Now, I'm curious.

        2. I'm so not afraid of asking stupid here's my stupid question. What is SPTT? I'm not a cheesemaker (but I stayed at a Holiday Inn) so the term is not familiar to me.

          Try not to laugh too hard when you read first I thought it said SPIT. Add spit and herbs....Zoiks!

          3 Replies
          1. re: Dee S

            My guess was Salt and Pepper to taste.

            1. re: smtucker

              smtucker has the correct answer. Sorry for the abbreviation. SPTT is indeed Salt Pepper To Taste.

              Some years ago, my DIL called me in tears from the grocery store after searching (in vain) for a box of SPTT, had gotten the manager involved and nobody had a clue what I'd written or how to order some SPTT.

              SPTT = kitchen shorthand. Sorry for the confusion.

              Old teacher here, "repeat after me...there is no such thing as a stupid question..." The best way to learn is to ask, and ask again if you get a blow-off answer.

              1. re: Sherri

                Thanks to both for clearing up the confusion. Thought maybe it was some special ingredient for cheese making. In all my many years of cooking, I've never seen it abbreviated (believe it or not).

                I am the QUEEN of stupid questions and totally not ashamed of it. My philosophy is "If you don't ask, you'll never know."