Experiments in the kitchen time!
I love sour milk products as much as I love bread. I’m kind of crazy about them, I can leave without many food items but anywhere I go and anywhere I find myself eating – I’m searching for milk products. With my insatiable hunger for them I’ve been thinking recently about making my own – yogurt at least. But to start making something you really have to DO it. And here is what I did!
the photo features this whole-wheat baguette
I’m sharing with you a Croatian recipe I picked up to make homemade cheese (for sure many nations will have their own cheese recipes). This is a very interesting process to observe, really! Full of pleasant surprises : ) It even feels creative although you’re not DOING anything, you just leave it to work on its own. I’ve already started my ‘cheese process’ thrice, the first two times the result was very nice, the third – well, I think I bought some pretty weird milk which wouldn’t even boil But with my stubborn zeal to get the result, I finally had another bowl with yogurt-like product soon to become silky cream cheese!
A year ago – Apricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios
Three years ago – 2 Energy-Boosting Sweets to Keep Your Mind and Spirit Up
Homemade Basa Cheese (Croatian) adapted from honestcooking.com will help you make your own yogurt, then cream cheese and finally soft cheese / tvorog. It all depends on how fast you eat it 🙂 The original website has clear instructions so here are just my changes and remarks.
The amount of milk given in the original recipe (2 litres) might turn out too large for an already stuffed refrigerator (and for your strainer / pan / bowls). So I would suggest making only half of it. Anyway, if you want to experiment and not to regret it, begin with small amounts 🙂 1 litre of milk will be just about right for a small pan and a medium strainer. You won’t need too much free space in the fridge for it either. Although be ready to start a new portion as soon as you see how easy you can get all-natural homemade yogurt!
I used 2.5 % fat milk but instead of sour cream which is about 15-20% fat here in Russia I used prostokvasha which is only 2.5% fat. Prostokvasha is simply (prosto) the first product you get when you sour (kvasit’) the milk, kind of very delicate yogurt. I didn’t add salt.
Advice: Oh that dairy heaven! If you don’t want to turn it into something nasty, please, observe two things. First, do NOT use enameled pots! The milk will burn INTO it. I used a ‘plain’ metal pan and still the milk would burn a little at the bottom. This gave a sourish taste to my third portion (see further). If this burnt milk drama happen to you, generously sprinkle soda on the bottom of the poor pan, add hot water and leave it for some time. Soda helped me more than any other detergent. A very Soviet solution! The second rule is not to leave your milk while it’s heating. It might look very peaceful and the next second it’s overflowing the pan!
Remarks: If you’re patient enough, you can wait while your cream cheese continue its metamorphoses until it becomes a sort of soft white cheese. I couldn’t : ) Also, if you add a more fatty sour milk product like sour cream, you would get a different result and I’m sure you’ll get to the soft cheese point (which will keep its shape) much faster. Probably even before you eat it all all the while it’s still at its ‘cream cheese’ stage! =)
By the way, if you have just one strainer but want to make ahead another portion of cream cheese, you can hang the first portion over something taller than a bowl like a jug, fastening the cheese cloth ends to a stick or a wooden spoon, which you will place across the jug. Thus the cheese ‘parcel’ will hang over the whey without touching it. The cheese will form better this way too, I guess, cause it will release whey even faster.
love the texture printed on the cheese!
Result: Unbelievably silky soft and tasty. Although it doesn’t have much of a conventional cream cheese ‘taste’ (I mean, I didn’t add any salt), the cream cheese that I got was the most tasty. But here you have to take into consideration the fact that the result will depend on the texture, fat content and flavour of the sour milk product you’re using. My three portions had a delicate vanilla hint (the same as the whey it produced). The things I’ve tried the cream cheese ON and WITH already: bread, sweet muffins, corn groats porridge (perfect union!) and just plain 🙂
Also, as a ‘side’ result (and a positive one for those baking quite a lot!) you will get lots of whey which you can certainly use instead of buttermilk or even milk in your bread or sweet recipes. It has a very tangible flavour though. I already used all of whey in various muffins, bundt cakes and even sourdough bread (like this and this). And if you continue making this cream cheese you will get such a leftover of whey that you will have no need in buying extra buttermilk / kefir for baking!
This is my third portion in early morning when I peeped in to see the result (the second portion is pictured with pink cloth). And who would believe that this third portion almost failed: first the milk wouldn’t boil then it wouldn’t coagulate even overnight and then I had to warm it up again and add more prostokvasha while the pot I used got double burnt milk layer on the bottom… Probably thanks to this extra ‘effort’ this portion tasted just like low-fat tvorog – cottage cheese! We’ve just finished it today.)
This time vanilla flavour was even more pronounced. The photos feature the second loaf from this super-tasty whole-wheat sourdough bread recipe. On this shot you can see the texture is different – it’s more grainy. After one more day the colour and flavour also changed to creamy and more sour.
I think I will resume this curious process after I turn back from my next journey. Meanwhile, enjoy your cooking experiments!