Some store-bought cheeses that are labeled “raw” do not completely qualify for that designation, because though they are made from raw (i.e., unpasteurized) milk, they are heated above 115°F, the highest temperature that a food can be heated to maintain raw status. Plus, heating milk above 115°F, whether before or during the cheesemaking process, kills off many of the enzymes and bacteria that make raw milk so flavorful and nutrient-rich (for more on raw or unpasteurized milk, see page 15). I was intrigued by the idea of making a truly raw cheese so that I could fully enjoy the benefits of raw milk.
If you add an acid to warmed (near the cow’s body temperature) raw milk, it results in a quick and tender farmers’-style cheese, like this one, that truly demonstrates how much easier it is to make cheese with fresh milk!
This cheese gets its tang from the lemon juice, which just adds to the ultra-fresh flavor. It melts well, and though you lose some of the live enzymes when that happens, it’s nice to have that option with such a fast process. It’s so fast that you can easily make and eat this entire batch all within a half hour. Yes, I said and eat!
How Easy Is It?
Level: Easy Easier Easiest
Ready to Eat In: 20 minutes
Makes: 4 to 6 ounces
Biggest Pain: The low-heat process results in a small yield.
Uses: Eat raw or melt on pizza, roasted veggies, or enchiladas.
Recommended Milk: Raw whole cow’s milk.
Worth Mentioning: You may not need the extra 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.
Pour the milk into the pot.
Add the salt to the milk and stir it well so it dissolves.
Heat the salty milk on low to medium heat until it reaches 105°F.
Pour the ½ cup of lemon juice into the pot (reserve the additional 3 tablespoons) and stir thoroughly as you heat the milk to 110°F.
The curd will start to form into waves, with a texture resembling a poached egg. If you see no separation between curds and whey, add the extra lemon juice one tablespoon at a time, stirring and waiting 30 seconds for clear curd formation.
As soon as you see coagulation, turn off the heat. Confirm that the temperature has not risen and carefully dip your clean hands into the pot to gather and press the curd into (roughly) 3-inch rounds.
Gently press out the remaining whey while forming the cheese into rustic mini-wheels (think, plump patties). Applying light pressure will yield tender slices. Firm pressure will result in moist crumbles.
You should be able to shape about three 3-inch rounds. That’s it! Your Farm-Fresh Rounds are ready to slice or crumble onto your favorite dish.
Raw Deal Pizza Stack
— Makes 2 stacks; serves 2 —
What’s the deal? We’re making everyone’s favorite snack in two minutes. Experiment and stack anything you would normally like on your pizza that you also enjoy raw. You can, of course, just use this cheese on regular pizza as a fast and delicious melty cheese.
4 “crusts” (choice of sliced tomato, olive oil–marinated eggplant round, or a pineapple slice)
4 thick slices or generous crumbles of Farm-Fresh Rounds
1/2 cup of choice of toppings (fresh basil, sliced spinach, sliced red peppers, olives, and/or fresh or marinated mushrooms)
2 tablespoons of choice of “sauce” (sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, pesto, olive tapenade, and/or drizzle of olive oil, and salt/pepper/oregano)
Start each stack with your “crust” of choice at the bottom. Top each crust with a slice of cheese, follow with the toppings, and then repeat. Finally, spoon the sauce over everything. My favorite Pizza Stack is a tomato slice crust, Farm-Fresh Round crumbles, coarse black pepper, sliced Kalamata olives, and basil pesto drizzled over everything. Yum.