Queso Blanco Cucumber Salad

This bright, fresh queso blanco cucumber salad with Hispanic-influenced flavors can also be made with homemade ricotta.

| September/October 2019

salad 

Queso blanco is a great cheese to make once you’ve conquered ricotta because it’s made in a similar fashion, but is formed and will hold its shape.

This fun, sliceable soft cheese can be cut into cubes and mixed into dishes, or sliced and enjoyed on top of crackers. Stir in your favorite herbs and seasonings with the salt to create a completely different look and taste.

Yields about 1-1/3 pounds.



Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Instructions:

  1. Pour the milk into a stainless steel stockpot and begin heating it on the stove over medium-low to medium heat, stirring occasionally with a long-handled stainless steel or wooden spoon. It should gradually reach 206 degrees Fahrenheit, which could take more than an hour if you begin with cold milk.
  2. While the milk is heating, set the colander in the sink and drape the cheesecloth over it. If you want to catch the whey to use in other projects, place a large bowl under the colander.
  3. Clip a thermometer to the inside of the pot to monitor the milk’s temperature as it heats. Be patient; don’t crank up the heat to hurry things along. Stir often, and wait for the right temperature.
  4. When the milk has reached 206 degrees and looks frothy on top, add the vinegar and stir briskly. Soon, small curds that look like little clumps of cheese will form. This is coagulation.
  5. Dump the contents of the stockpot into the cheesecloth-lined colander, and then stir in the salt. Gather up the four corners of the cheesecloth and tie them into a sturdy knot. Gently press the bagged cheese with your hand to release some of the excess whey. This will result in a firmer cheese.
  6. Let the cheese drain for several hours in the refrigerator, until whey no longer drips from it. To drain, slip the handle of a wooden spoon under the knot on the cheesecloth, and then suspend the cheese by setting the spoon over the mouth of a large bowl or pitcher.
  7. After the cheese has finished draining, untie the knot and release the solid ball of cheese. Use immediately, or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

cucumber
Photo by Jiri Hera

This bright, fresh salad with Hispanic-influenced flavors can also be made with homemade ricotta. Yields 4 servings as a side dish.






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