If you’ve read through any of my other SFC recipe posts, it’s easy to see that I do, on occasion, love making things from scratch. That said, I’ve really only ever scratched the surface at this; it’s quite apparent that there’s a cavalcade of in-depth, complicated, time-heavy, and even still just plain simple recipes I have yet to get to. One of them, to my own disappointment, has been making my own fresh cheese. But, a recent recipe foray in my Other Blog called for the use of young, fresh ricotta-ish style cheese. Since I didn’t have much else I needed to do for the project, I figured what the hell, time to pop that cheesecloth.
It also called from Crème Fraiche, which I HAVE made before, but had never found much luck getting it satisfactory to how I wanted it, at least consistency wise. So I wanted to try one last time, make sure I got a recipe that seemed to yield a positive result, and there we go.
Simple Crème Fraiche
1 cup Heavy Cream, Pasteurized
1 Tb Buttermilk
Very simple to do and put together, just warm the Cream up to 105F; if you want to monitor, some form of instant read thermometer will be best for it. If you don’t have it, it’s basically just a bit above body temperature, take it off the heat when it feels “warm” to the touch, not hot. Stir in Buttermilk, transfer to some random container, cover loosely yet completely (plastic wrap, not tight, is what I’ve learned is the ideal version of this).
Now just let it sit at least 24 hours on the shelf or other room temp (ideally, 70-76F) location. Can leave it longer if you like, some might take up to 36 hours depending on scenario, but I found it wouldn’t get any thicker than sitting one day. There’s no need to stir the cream, in fact it might be detrimental if one did (I’m wondering if it might have been a factor in my not-so-successful past attempts, either that or its covering). Once it gets to the point where it jiggles when shaken, can transfer to the fridge to cool down to ideal texture (obviously it won’t be as thick when warm). And oila, we have our own thick, beautifully tart and creamy dairy mixture, our own French version of sour cream made in house.
At this time, I could probably be a good writer, research what the actual molecular reactions and reasons it is that makes our simple cream into a sour, almost gelatinized bundle, but I don’t really feel like ranting today. Onto cheese!
Homemade Fromage Blanc/Farm Cheese
3 cups Whole Milk
1 cup Cream
3 Tb Lemon Juice or Vinegar
1 Tb (or more) Kosher/Sea Salt
Before I start, note how I didn’t name this “Ricotta” like many other recipes may. That’s because this is NOT Ricotta. Ignoring the whole Italian-only and Sheep-milk thing, any true ricotta is made purely from Whey, the leftover liquid in cheese making, and not from any pure dairy; though it uses the same method as follows (but with pure vinegar and a higher cooking temp). On a similar note, Marscarpone is also the same method, but using all cream instead of milk+cream (of which, this ratio isn’t required, one can use more or less cream for richer or drier consistencies in the finished product).
Start the same way as with the dairy from previously, only this time we head to about 190F,stirring only briefly to allow full heat distribution. Remove from heat, stir in your Lemon Juice/Acid and let sit 5-15 minutes for the curds to separate from the whey.
While this is setting, prep your straining station. Set a colander, doesn’t have to be fine, over a bowl (or if you don’t want to save the whey, right in the sink), and line it with cheesecloth or other similarly fine fabric; I use white tea towels often.
Now, quite a few people say to “carefully scoop the curds from the whey into the strainer,” which works well if your mix has ended up with good, big size pieces that all float to the top (maybe with very large batches). Since all the curds in mine were basically mixed in quite thoroughly, and I bet yours will be to, I just say dump it all in, a bit at a time just to be gentle. I don’t quite see any real need to be all elegant here, it’s getting strained anyways.
Leave this for, say, a couple hours; it doesn’t need long. Let it drip naturally, don’t press it, and it’ll turn into a soft mass of creamy, tender fresh curd. Leave it longer and it’ll go further into a firmer white fromage; less and it’s a loose cottage cheese-ish thing. The final texture is up to you. All that’s required is to mix with that Salt for seasoning. Eat now or look into ways to store and age as desired.
As for me, a certain French ‘pizza’ known as Flammekeuche was calling my name. Check the link for its history and recipe, which calls for a blending of both Fraiche and Fromage for its cheese/sauce base. And pizza’s street food, so I just had to connect it to here.
By the way, don’t be afraid to hold onto that leftover whey. It’s great to use in various recipes as a substitute for water to make things tangier, or substitute milk with it for less dairy impact. Boil things in it even.
Well, hopefully some of these projects coming up will lead me to explore even more ‘from scratch’ preparations to use. I will certainly make sure to keep this blog updated whenever I do! For those looking to reproduce these or any versions of these fresh dairy products, good luck and good eating.