Before you Begin:
You will need:
1 gallon of whole or skim milk (Not UltraPasturized)
plus a good stainless pot to hold the milk with a cover
1 packet of our Fromage Blanc culture (this also contains the pre-measured rennet). Many of our German customers also use this with skim milk for making their Quark and love the results
Ricki often substitutes the C31 Fromagina culture which has a bit less rennet for this one.
A good thermometer could be a help
A knife to cut the curds, and a spoon or ladle to transfer the curds with.
Optional herbs, fruit, etc plus a bit of salt to your taste
A colander and butter muslin to drain the curds
Everything needs to be clean and sanitized.
Now lets make Fromage Blanc:
Converting the milk
Heat your 1 gallon of milk to 86F while stirring slowly. You can use a thermometer but this is so close to our body temperature that when the milk feels neither cool nor warm it is close enough.
Once it reaches this temperature you will open the packet of our Fromage Blanc culture and sprinkling it on the milk surface waiting 1 minute and then stirring it into the milk for a couple of minutes. This starter culture contains bacteria and rennet.
Next, allow the milk to sit quietly on the counter at room temperature 68-74F for 12-14 hours. The milk will drop in temperature during this time to that of the room. During the winter it would best to keep the pot covered with towels or a blanket to keep from getting cool. The best time to do this is in the evening because the curds will be ready to drain in the morning and can be draining while you are busy doing other things or at work.
During this time the bacteria in the culture converts the milk sugar (lactose) into lactic acid which gives the cheese its flavor and increases the acidity of the milk.
The rennet coagulates the milk. The milk will coagulate into a gel after a few hours. When this solidified mass shrinks slightly, visibly pulling away from the edges of the container, the coagulation is sufficient. The Fromage Blanc at this point will look like a block of curd floating in clear whey.
Separating the Whey
Our next task will be to separate the solids (Curds soon to become cheese) and liquid called whey.
We will begin by lining our sanitized colander with the cheese cloth in preparation for draining. If you would like to save the whey for cooking or other uses simply drain it all into another pot.
You are now ready to transfer the curds to the draining cloth. Note the firmness of the curd in the photos below. Simply ladle the curds into the cloth and allow the whey to drain off.
Note the clear whey that is forming below as the curds are cut and ladled. This is our next objective to remove enough of this moisture for the cheese we would like.
Once the curd is transferred you can bring the corners of the draining cloth together and tie them off. It should then be hung for several hours to allow the whey to drain off. This can take from 3-12 hours depending on the final moisture desired.
This is usually done at room temperature of 65-74F since lower temperature will slow the draining process and higher temperatures will cause faster draining and a drier cheese.
You may find that you need to open the cloth and scrape the edges to help the draining whey.