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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Salud! at Whole Foods: Cheese Making

When I was little one of my favorite places to visit was the Hickory Farms cheese store. No, they weren’t always a kiosk in the middle of the mall at Christmas time. They were a stand-alone store full of different types of cheese – ALL of which you could request a sample of! Dad and Mom would always let me get a couple ¼ pound chunks of cheese as a treat (I was a budding foodie even back then!).

And now one of the fun things about our annual ‘pilgrimage’ to see Himself’s relatives in MN and WI is stopping at as many different cheese factories as possible. Love those cheese curds!

So it’s not a far jump to understand why I was VERY excited to see Salud! offered a cheese making class.

The class was VERY interesting. The varieties we did were Paneer (a cheese from India), cottage, ricotta and mozzarella… plus cultured butter.

It was also very time consuming. Just bringing the milk up to heat could take 20 minutes, and then there was the ‘setting’ time.

Paneer was a LOT like the Ethiopian cheese I enjoy with those meals and very easy to make.

The cottage cheese came to curd very quickly.

I did like this cottage cheese more than any I’ve ever bought. Very different consistency.

Ricotta was much nicer than I’ve found in stores, but kind of complicated.

Mozzarella. Took forever and was a hassle – in my humble opinion. You have to add citric acid and rennet to the heated milk…then let it sit for 2-3 hours.

When it’s done it will be one large curd.

Which has to be cut up, reheated, cut up again and kneaded until it looks like Silly Putty? Then you roll it into balls and from there you can finally eat it.

… I’ll keep buying it at Whole Foods…

The ‘cultured’ butter was good, very good. To me it was like a cross between butter and maybe a sour cream. Yummy.

You beat for a while…

… and then all a sudden it comes together!

We had (from top right) a lasagna (made with mozzarella and ricotta from the recipes but not that we made – time factor),the cottage cheese, and paneer on ginger snaps. We also had a Caprese salad made with our mozzarella and French bread with the butter – that got snapped up so quickly I didn’t get a photo!

(I’m going to give you the cultured butter because the cheese recipes are rather long and technical).

Cultured Butter

1 quart heavy cream
1/3 cup live culture: whole milk yogurt or crème fraiche

Combine ingredients in an earthenware or glass bowl. Open each container and make sure you get all milk solids. Whisk to combine. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight; somewhere in the mid 70*F is perfect. The next day give the bowl a little shake – if the cream mixture has thickened, you are ready to proceed.

Beat cream with a hand held mixer until soft peaks form (it’s going to look a lot like cottage cheese for a while!!). Switch to low speed since once you start to make butter you will also have buttermilk that will spray everywhere – so be careful!

Strain buttermilk into bowl. (You may have a little or a lot). Press butter with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much buttermilk as you can. Rinse butter with cold water and drain. Continue to rinse and drain with cold water until the water runs clear.

Transfer to either a glass or earthenware container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Funky Junk's Sat Nite Special


  1. After reading your comment over on Jo's blog I had to check you out! A great blog I must say and I looked in your archives too! I enjoy cooking too, and enjoying the happy life I lead! Great to know you.


  2. Alas my hubby is lactose intolerant so I have to stick with goat's milk cheese or Cabot brand with no lactose. That paneer on ginger snaps, what a great combo! And I can definitely see why no pictures of the Caprese salad, those are soooo yummy. Wish someone nearby here would start a cooking school, I always enjoy reading about yours! ~Lili

  3. Hey, I just made my first cheese yesterday....goat cheese, simple starts. Today I was aiming for the mozzarella, I know I am not sure about all the reheating, kneading etc. but what the heck. Thanks for the great photos.

  4. I LOVE making cheese! I am also looking forward to making your cultured butter. It sounds yummy!


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