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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gettin' Cheesy

I figured I have probably pushed the outer limits of "shelf fresh" with some of my powdered milk.

I packaged a number of vacuum sealed bags, each with about 3/4 of a pound of powdered milk.

If you look a bit more closely, you'll see that I put this stuff into storage in February of 2008.... just a bit past the "best by" date ;-)

Since I can't stand the taste of powdered milk, even when it is right from the store, I figured I would try making some cheese.  Better than just tossing the stuff into the garbage.

For the record, the milk had held up remarkably well.  It truly tasted the same as newer powdered milk.

Anyways, I found this recipe online -

Quick Soft Pressed Cheese
2 c. boiling water 1-1/2 c. dry milk powder
3 T. vegetable oil
1 c. buttermilk
3-4 T. fresh lemon juice
cheese coloring tablets (opt.)

Blend water, milk and oil, allowing foam to settle slightly. If colored cheese is desired, add ½ tablet cheese coloring (or cake decorating paste color) while blending. Pour into hot saucepan coated with a nonstick spray and heat to at least 160 degrees. Add lemon juice and continue to stir until mixture curdles. Pour into a cheesecloth lined colander. Rinse curds with warm water, then salt to taste. Place cheese in cloth between two plates or spoon into a cheese press. Apply weight and let sit for ½ hour or longer, depending on how firm you want the cheese to be. Remove from plates or cheese press, rinse, wrap in plastic and refrigerate. Use within one month or freeze. This cheese can be sliced, grated, or crumbled.

For Smoky Cheese, add
½ t. Liquid Smoke flavoring and
½-1 t. salt after rinsing curds.
Pretty interesting process.

I made up the buttermilk by making a cup of re-hydrated milk (1C cold water and 1/3 C powdered milk), adding a tablespoon of white vinegar, and letting it sit for 5 minutes.

This gave me 4 cups of cheese-makin' juice!

I then followed the directions to the letter.

Since the water had been boiled, it came up to the 160F pretty quickly.  I stirred and checked the temp all along the way (5 minutes or so).

I then added 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice, and Viola! curds and whey! (click the pic for a better look)

This is right after it "broke".  I kept stirring, and in a minute or so, it was very clearly separated between the white curds and the yellowish whey.

I dumped the whole mess into a cheese cloth covered colander -

This picture is a bit deceiving, in that the curds look like cottage cheese.  Nope.  It is very "rubbery" to the touch, and has virtually no real flavor.

I "fluffed" it up, and rinsed it with warm water. 

After draining for a bit, I added a little bit less than a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and mixed it all together.  Really, pretty good tasting!

I then squeezed as much of the remaining moisture out (probably should have done that before salting the cheese).  I wrapped it up with the cheese cloth from the strainer into a square shape, and wrapped THAT in another piece of cheese cloth -

The block o' cheese was placed between two plates, and I added an almost-full bottle of soy sauce as a weight.

I let this sit for 30 minutes.  The cheese was firmer, but still too crumbly, so I wrapped it all up and weighed it down for another 30 minutes.

I need to make a cheese press!

The extra half hour didn't make much of a difference, so I figured it was time for a taste test.

First, I weighed what I had made - just under 5 oz of cheese -

As you can see, it's quite crumbly.  The patty held together well, but breaks apart easily -

I crumbled some on a tortilla to make a quesadilla.  Now, most cheese recipes I read indicated that this kind of cheese won't melt.

They were right!

I nuked the tortilla and cheese for a minute, and while the cheese got softer, it never really melted.

The flavor was very good though.  Actually a bit of sweetness.  I had my wife try one of the wedges of the quesadilla and she liked it (not knowing it was made from powdered milk).  Her only suggestion was for more salt.

The texture is like a common Mexican cheese, queso fresco - fresh cheese.

As this is published, I've got another batch made up where I added more salt and a 1/2 tsp of liquid smoke.  I've got a new cheese press, of sorts.  I want to give this a bit more time to firm up.

I'll share the results and some more pix in the next post.

Accept The Challenge

I was quite pleased with the results of my little experiment.  Nice, fresh cheese from that disgusting powdered milk!

I think I will next try for one of the cream-style cheeses - something I can slather on a bagel.  Mix in some spices and perhaps some diced onions and end up with a real schmear!

This worked out very well, in that I won't be throwing the powdered milk in the garbage.  The only palatable use I've found for this stuff so far is in chocolate pudding and a couple other recipes.  Being able to make a quick and easy cheese is a big bonus.

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Copyright 2011 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Tracy Dear said...


kdonat said...

Try using the powdered milk to make homemade yogurt. I often use a combination of "past the use by date" canned evaporated milk and powdered for yogurt. There are several recipes available online. The nice thing is you can make it as thick or as runny as you like.

Terrie said...

Good job! I love making cheese...Mazzarella only takes about 30 min. I have a cheese press and you can make your own. Mazzarella cheese and some of the soft cheese you dont need a press.