Introduction to Soft Cheeses
Soft cheese is a healthy cultured food that is as versatile as it is delicious. It is a high-moisture, spreadable cheese that is eaten fresh. Soft cheeses such as cream cheese and mascarpone can easily be used in recipes, stirred into granola, or dolloped on top of pasta, salad, or warm bread. These cheeses have a moist, creamy consistency and can be considered a culinary tabula rasa because of the wide range of possible additions to make the flavor your own. Fruit, nuts, veggies, herbs, or spices: anything can be added to a soft cheese to make spreads, dressings, toppings, or afternoon snacks. Making soft cheese is a great option for beginning cheesemakers because it requires little equipment, ingredients, or attention. Soft cheese is sometimes called “bag cheese” because it is usually drained of whey in a sack made of cotton or butter muslin.
Soft cheese is best made in a kitchen with a steady, moderate temperature, around 72°F. Higher temperature or excessive humidity may promote yeast growth, which in turn will affect the taste of the cheese. Yeast-affected cheeses will taste gassy, off-flavored, or even fruity. If the temperature in the kitchen drops too low, it will impede proper culturing and drainage of the soft cheese.
One gallon of milk will generally produce between 1½ to 2 pounds of cheese, depending on butterfat content. The more butterfat in your milk, the more cheese you will produce.
Some simple soft cheeses for beginners include:
A cheese starter kit is sometimes a better and more economical option, and it provides a fun project to do with children or family.
Three Basic Steps to Making Soft Cheese
Making soft cheese at home is easy and affordable. Start with fresh milk: cow, goat, sheep, mare, or buffalo milk.
2. Adding culture and rennet
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