(Any vinegar will do, actually.) You heat the milk up in a pot until it's between 185-195 degrees F, and then you slowly add the vinegar, a bit at a time, stirring very very gently, until the curds separate and the whey is clear. Then you strain it for a few hours, and you're all set.
I found that I needed to heat my milk to 205 before the whey lost that cloudy, milky look. You don't want to boil the milk because that will change the flavor of the cheese. But you (probably) don't want to add more vinegar, because that will give you a very sour tasting product.
Queso Blanco is interesting because it doesn't melt, like most cheeses do. So you can add it to things like stir fries and all it will do is brown. Or you can do what I did and coat it with some bread crumbs and fry it. The cheese will hold its shape during and after the process, and when you bite into it, you bite cleanly through – there is no slap of stretchy hot cheese to burn your lip. You can also crumble it onto salads or pizzas, if you'd like, though it doesn't have a very strong flavor.
It's kind of…well…different.
But I wanted to make more soft cheeses (and, eventually, hard cheeses this year – stay tuned for that!), so I figured I'd give this one a shot.
Here's how I fried it.
First, I sliced off about half of my finished, strained, refrigerated cheese.
I set up three bowls: seasoned flour, beaten egg with a bit of milk, and a mix of seasoned flour and Panko bread crumbs. I dipped each piece of cheese into the bowls – flour, egg, crumbs – and set them on another plate while I heated up my oil.
When the oil was about 360 degrees F, I started frying. They browned fairly quickly – maybe two minutes or so all together.
And that was it. We dunked them in barbecue sauce, because we were having leftover ribs that night as well, but you could use marinara or salsa or whatever you like.
The verdict? Bill really enjoyed them. The kids were so-so, and I was, too. I think if I make this again, I'd add a bit of salt to the curds before I strain them – to me, they were pretty bland. But I suppose they're supposed to be. They are an accompaniment, a texture, a bit of calcium. But not the star of the show.
By the way – I have ordered the Basic Hard Cheese kit and some wax from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, so I can start making things like cheddar, gouda, feta…YAY! The kit should arrive this week. I'm very excited.