Monday, September 13, 2010

Soft Cheese Impressions

Cow's milk queso blanco
I have made soft cheese on three occasions, with varying success. The first two times were the cow's milk and then goat's milk versions of queso blanco that I mentioned in my Introduction post. Queso blanco is a firm, bland, Latin American cheese that has the somewhat unique property of not melting, even at high temperatures, which makes it ideal for frying. These cheeses were alright, but definitely nothing special. Still, it was a fun introduction to cheese making.

Very recently, just before I made my first hard cheese, I made a panir (also spelled "paneer"). It is an Indian cheese that can be made with just milk and lemon juice, and  I made it while I was still working on getting all my ingredients together for the hard cheeses. I still used the cheap cheesecloth, but I quadrupled it up, using the rest of what I had because I knew it would be the last time before I had "real" cheesecloth and butter muslin, which are washable and reusable, just like any other fabric. The panir came out good; nice texture, good creamy flavor, but one unexpected side effect of the chosen coagulating agent... a lemony flavor! It is actually pretty good, if eaten with the right things, or just by itself. It reminds me of the flavor of lemon yogurt slightly. In the process of making panir, there is a step where the lemon juice is washed from the curds, and I guess I didn't wash them thoroughly enough.

My overall impression of homemade soft cheeses so far is that they tend to be very bland. I will probably play around with making some more soft cheeses someday, but for now I plan to focus on hard cheeses, because they are much more flavorful and the process of making them is so much more involved.


  1. Is the queso blanco like a ricotta? Good for italian cooking? Like making lasagna and such?

  2. Yes, pretty much that was how the one I made turned out. It's fun to make if you want to just try out cheese making with stuff you already have around the house. Super easy.