The production of cheese for food is ancient. The definite origins are unknown though there are many theories and oral histories.
It is a versatile and tasty byproduct of 'too much milk'. Many factors govern the final product including the kind of milk used, what you use to set the curd (Rennet or acid), cultures and other flavoring additions and further processing including bacteria and mold as well as local conditions.
Quick Farmer's Cheese
1 quart of whole goat milk
2-4 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and herbs
Heat your milk slowly in a non-reactive pot, stirring with a wooden spoon to 175 F (about 80 C). It will look 'foamy' around the edges.
Stir in the lemon juice and let the curds 'set' 10-15 minutes.
Pour into a colander lined with cheese cloth and let drain an hour to an hour and a half.
If you're in a hurry you can pick up the bundle and squeeze out the whey.
Add salt and herbs. Form into a button.
Serve it forth or chill to use in the next week.
Farm fresh milk is best. You may use cow, sheep, goat, buffalo, reindeer, camel, yak, etc.
Store bought pasteurized milk is acceptable as long as it's not 'ultra pasteurized'.
To set the curds you may also use other citrus juices or acids like vinegar or rennet.
If you soak it in cold water for a few hours then press it under a slab you have made Paneer.
Paneer (also Panir or Paner) is an acid set, non-melting farmer's cheese.
What to do with the whey (other than converting it to bacon by feeding it to the pigs)? The whey is the liquid strained away from the button.
Original recipe from Platina: De Recocta. We heat the whey which was left from the cheese in a cauldron over a slow fire until all the fat rises to the top; this is what the country-folk call recocta, because it is made from leftover milk which is heated up. It is very white and mild. It is less healthful than new or medium-aged cheese, but it is considered better than that which is aged or too salty. Whether one is pleased to call it cocta or recocta, cooks use it in many pottages, especially in those made of herbs.
- Andrews, E. B. trans. Platina. De Honesta Voluptatae. L. de Aguila. Venice, 1475. St. Louis: Mallinckrodt, 1967.
Redaction: Save the whey, slowly heat to over 185F to precipitate the milk solids. You will see it happen! Strain, salt and use in other recipes or eat plain!
Or... some recipes use more acid (vinegar or citrus) to make ricotta and other products.
You will witness the milk begin to steam and form little bubbles around the perimeter of the pot.
Confirm that an adequate temperature has been achieved with a thermometer if you'd like. Between 175 and 180F or around 80C should be sufficient.
Remove from the heat. Pour in your acid or rennet and wait for the curd to set. The process begins instantly and looks like curdled milk. Let it sit and react for about 10-15min.
Once the curd has set, strain the whey away from the curds through cheese cloth over a strainer set in a pan if you want to save the whey. If you've only used 2 Tbsp of the lemon juice the whey will still be milky. If you want to process it further, remember not to strain it into the sink!