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Cowgirl Creamery Fromage Blanc
Maureen Cunnie, Cowgirl Creamery

Yields 4 cups, plus 10 cups whey

1 gallon      pasteurized whole milk
1               dairy thermometer
1/8 tsp       fromage blanc culture
1 drop        vegetarian rennet (0.1 ml.)
2 drops      calcium chloride (0.2 ml.)
                 Cheesecloth and other items from “What You’ll Need” list on backside of recipe
½ cup        crème fraiche, homemade or store bought
¾ - 1 tsp    fine sea salt

Step1:  “Ripen” the milk.
Pour milk into an 8- to 10-qt heavy-bottomed pot and insert dairy thermometer. Heat milk over medium-high heat to 85°, stirring often to prevent scorching. Remove from heat, remove thermometer, and sprinkle culture as evenly as possible over milk; let rest 10 minutes, then gently stir 1 minute in one direction. Dilute rennet in 2 tablespoons cool water and pour in evenly over milk; stir the same way. Dilute calcium chloride in 2 tablespoons cool water; pour and stir as you did the culture and rennet. Stir once in opposite direction to stop movement of milk. Cover with cheesecloth’ let rest overnight on counter.

Step 2:  Drain your curds.
Ladle curds out of the pot into a large colander, lined with a double thickness of cheesecloth and set over a clean bucket. About 10 cups of whey will drain into the bucket; use for homemade ricotta 9transfer whey to a bowl in the fridge). Drain curds 6 to 8 hours at room temperature, until the cheese resembles thick sour cream, scooping and turning with a soup spoon every hour or so in order to let the curds dry evenly.

Step 3: Dress your curds.
Turn fromage blanc into a large bowl and stir in Crème Fraîche and salt to taste. Cheese is now ready to eat. It keeps, chilled in an airtight container, up to 1 week.

What you'll need:
These supplies may seem a bit mad-scientist, but they’re easy to use. Find them, unless otherwise noted, at the Beverage People (thebeveragepeople.com or 800-544-1867). One important note – be scrupulously clean when making cheese – scrub surfaces with antibacterial soap and boil utensils (ladle, spoons, etc.) for 20 minutes before using. You don’t want bad bacteria messing with the good.

Calcium chloride: a type of salt that helps firm up the curds.
Cheesecloth: A loosely woven cloth for lining cheese molds or colanders. Find at most grocery stores.
Fromage blanc culture: Gives cheese both flavor and texture; looks a lot like freeze-dried yeast used for baking.
Dairy thermometer: Unlike a candy thermometer, measures low temperatures too. You can substitute an instant-read thermometer.
Vegetarian rennet:  A lab-created version of the natural enzymes that coagulate milk.

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