Farmersgirl Kitchen

How to make Soft Cheese and other Alchemy

Home made soft cheese

When I posted a photo this homemade soft cheese on social media, someone described it as alchemy and, in a way, it is.  

One of the definitions of alchemy is: “a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination” and making soft cheese is a transformation of liquid milk into solid cheese.

The good news is that making soft cheese at home is really simple especially if you use the Lekue Cheese Maker.  There are no moving parts, it’s simply a perfectly-sized bowl with it’s own strainer to let the whey run off the cheese.

Lekue Cheese Maker

The Lekue Cheese Maker usually costs £19.90, however it is currently on sale at £15.92 at the Lekue online store.  While it’s not essential for making the soft cheese, it certainly makes it a lot easier. 

Lekue Soft Cheese
A simple soft cheese made with milk, it's a little bit of alchemy!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 litre milk
  2. 2tbsp lemon juice or 1 tbsp + 1 tsp vinegar
  3. OR
  4. 750 ml milk
  5. 375 g natural yogurt
Instructions
  1. To make the cheese there are two options, the first is to add lemon or vinegar to the milk, the other is to add natural yogurt.
  2. Heat the mixture in the microwave 12-14 minutes at 800W (90C/194F) and the milk separates.
  3. Leave the mixture to cool for 30 minutes then add salt or sugar to taste and pour into the strainer letting the whey drain away.
  4. Put the strainer back into the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour, then you can turn the cheese out onto a plate.
Farmersgirl Kitchen http://farmersgirlkitchen.co.uk/
  Cracker with homemade soft cheese and herbs

Cheese making is not the only alchemy in my kitchen, I’ve also been using my Optimum  P200 Dehydrator to dehydrate tomatoes and make ‘sun-dried’ tomatoes in olive oil.

Dehydrating Tomatoes

Making the ‘sun’ dried tomatoes in the dehydrator is really easy.  This is the time of year when you can get really good ripe tomatoes more cheaply and we were really impressed by the concentrated tomato flavour.  

I sliced the tomatoes so they would dry more quickly, but if you are prepared to wait you can dehydrate quarters or halves, or little grape tomatoes.  Timing is variable depending on the tomatoes,  I ran my dehydrator for 12 hours at 57C.  I then packed the dried tomatoes into a jar with some whole peeled cloves of garlic and fresh basil leaves and filled the jar with oil.  

Soft Cheese and Sundried Tomato Bruschetta

I left the jar for about two weeks before opening and the result is totally delicious. The oil takes on the tomato, garlic and basil flavour making it ideal to brush onto olive bread then toast to make the bruschetta base.  

Then I simply topped the bread with cubes of homemade soft cheese, the slices of dried tomatoes, a little fresh basil and then drizzled it all with more of the oil from the jar, it was just gorgeous.

UPDATE

Note and Disclaimer (viz a viz Clostridium Botulinum)

It’s vital when you cure vegetables in olive oil that you thoroughly clean the jar itself as well as all the ingredients and utensils used in the preparation. My friend  at Christina’s Cucina tells me her family have  been curing and pickling vegetables for many years without any health issues.  However, many food safety authorities advise against preserving tomatoes and garlic in oil due the risk of bacterial contamination and proliferation of spores, especially clostridium botulinum, which could be fatal.

I will still be making small quantities but eating within a few days.

Herb and flower dehydrating

My Optimum P200 Dehydrator has been put to  good use recently, with rose petals and herbs from my garden filling the trays.  Again the time for dehydration varies, the rose petals took around 6 hours, the rosemary which has quite a fleshy leaf took around 14 hours. 

Bruschetta with homemade cheese and sun dried tomatoes in olive oil

Disclosure: Froothie UK sent me the Optimum P200 Dehyrator to use and review at home. I have not been paid for this post and was not required to give the Optimum P200 Dehydrator a positive write up.  All opinions are my own.  Affiliate links included in this post and if you buy the dehydrator via the link I will receive a small payment, but the product will not cost you any more.

Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    Karen
    July 17, 2016

    YES! I love the word alchemy and often use it when I make jam – that moment when soft fruit melds with sugar to become a jammy, pan of deliciousness! I received my cheese maker last week, so this post will provide me with lots of lovely tips and ideas!
    I only wish I had a dehydrator too, but maybe I may treat myself to one this Christmas!
    I LOVE the look of all the recipes in this post, all very summery!
    Karen
    Karen recently posted…Mum’s Bilberry Plate Pie and Clotted CreamMy Profile

    • Leave a Reply

      Janice Pattie
      July 17, 2016

      Thank you, I guess cooking is chemistry so not so far off alchemy, enjoy your cheese maker, look forward to seeing what you make.

  2. Leave a Reply

    Christina | Christina's Cucina
    July 17, 2016

    Homemade cheese is one of the best things EVER! I feel sorry for those who have never had the pleasure of tasting it! My mother made it all the time when I was growing up, and I loved the ricotta that came out afterwards AND the whey at the end! I hope this entices people to try making cheese themselves, it is very easy!
    Christina | Christina’s Cucina recently posted…Driving From Switzerland to the Italian Lakes: Maggiore, Lugano and ComoMy Profile

    • Leave a Reply

      Janice Pattie
      July 17, 2016

      How fortunate you were Christina. My mother made a lot of things, but not homemade cheese! I’ve made cheese in varying ways in the past but I don’t think it ever tasted as good as this method.

    • Leave a Reply

      Janice Pattie
      July 17, 2016

      Thanks Emma, you would be very welcome, just don’t come on a Friday night because then it tends to be pizza straight from the box!!!

    • Leave a Reply

      Janice Pattie
      July 18, 2016

      Thanks Helen, yes it certainly does make it easier.

    • Leave a Reply

      Janice Pattie
      July 19, 2016

      It’s amazing how easy it is Dannii, look forward to seeing what you make.

  3. Leave a Reply

    Keep Calm and Fanny On
    July 18, 2016

    I’ve seen this kit in stores and swineherd, think I’ll go back and give it a whirl. I’ve made cheese before and loved it, just wish we could get our hands on some really decent milk to make it! Thanks…
    Keep Calm and Fanny On recently posted…Uh-huh, Fanny’s All Fried UpMy Profile

    • Leave a Reply

      Janice Pattie
      July 19, 2016

      The kit does make it easy but you could try without with muslin in a sieve and see how you get on. I added a bit of double cream to my milk to boost it up a bit.

  4. Leave a Reply

    Choclette
    July 19, 2016

    Oh I don’t know where to start with this post Janice. I love it. I haven’t made cheese for ages, mostly because it’s a bit fiddly, so I’m very envious of the Lekue mould – what a brilliant idea. It also turns it out into something a bit more attractive than what you get from a cheese cloth. The tomatoes sound fab too and the whole bruschetta thing sounds too delicious for words. Great post.

    • Leave a Reply

      Janice Pattie
      July 19, 2016

      Thank you Choclette, I found it great fun to make both the cheese and tomatoes. I think this type of recipe takes me back to the root of my love of cooking, simple pleasures.

  5. Leave a Reply

    M M
    July 31, 2016

    re those yummy tomatoes in olive oil, how long would in the fridge?

    • Leave a Reply

      Janice Pattie
      August 1, 2016

      I wouldn’t keep the, more than a week to ten days. The oil will solidify in the fridge but will soon return to liquid at room temperature.

  6. Leave a Reply

    Laura Boccauw
    January 10, 2017

    I bought the cheese maker today and used 1 litre fresh milk, heated this for 14 minutes in the microwave, added the lemonjuice and let it cool down for 30 minutes… However there was no cheese left. It was all hond with the whey in the sink… Would it help if i added the lemonjuice before microwaving? Thanks
    Laura Boccauw recently posted…Kip- en rijstschotel met kokosMy Profile

    • Leave a Reply

      Janice Pattie
      January 11, 2017

      Sorry to hear that Laura. I followed the instructions that came with the cheese maker and it worked okay for me. I know this happened to a friend of mine, she tried again and it worked okay. It needs to be whole milk not semi-skimmed for best results. There’s also the yogurt option instead of lemon which could be worth a try. If you have any more problems I would suggest you contact Lekue directly. Good luck with your cheese making.

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