Queso fresco, meaning fresh cheese in Spanish, is a popular Latin American cheese and is present in many traditional Latin American dishes. It is much like queso blanco, being an easy, low-temperature cheese, but queso fresco is a bit more work, for it is pressed and allowed to age slightly, thereby developing a more complex flavor than queso blanco.
- Heat the milk to 90°F.
- Add starter, stirring constantly with an up-and-down motion for 1 minute.
- Remove the milk from the heat and add the dissolved rennet, and incorporate with an up-and-down motion.
- Cover and let it set undisturbed for about 30 minutes, or until you have a clean break.
- Cut the curd into 1/4-inch cubes.
- Over medium-low heat, bring the temperature of the curds and whey to 95°F. Raise the heat gradually. It should take between 15 and 20 minutes. Keep stirring gently to prevent your curds from sticking together (matting).
- Once the curds have reached the proper temperature, let them set for 5 minutes, undisturbed, then drain off the whey.
- Add about 2 tablespoons of cheese salt to the curds, then keep them at 95°F for 30 minutes.
- Line a cheese press with cheesecloth and put the warm curds into it. Press at 35 pounds of pressure for 5 to 6 hours.
- Remove the cheese from the mold and put it into a covered container in the refrigerator.
The cheese will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
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