This Wiki Article is a generic recipe for making Queso Fresco. Queso Fresco is Spanish for “fresh cheese” and is very popular in Hispanic areas of Mexico and USA. Quesco Fresco is a rennet coagulated, soft (requiring no pressing), fresh (not aged – ripened) cheese that uses store bought buttermilk as a starter culture.
It is a great beginner cheese as equipment needs are minimal, ingredients are simple, the cheese needs no ripening time before consuming resulting in quick results and ability to repeat to perfect your method and equipment, and versus simpler direct acid coagulated cheeses, has great flavour.
- Vat: In which to mix the ingredients and cook the milk.
- Heating Device: To heat the vat.
- Stirring Tool: To stir ingredients into milk and to minimize hot spots while cooking.
- Colander: To hold cheesecloth while initially draining the whey from curds.
- Cheesecloth: To drain whey from curds.
- Container: In which to form the cheese and hold the cheese until consumed.
Makes ~0.75 kg / ~1.5 pounds of Queso Fresco:
- 4 liters/1 US gallon cow milk.
- 2 liters/2 quarts cultured buttermilk.
- 75 ml/5 tablespoons/2.5 fluid ounces white vinegar.
- Rennet, your choice of type, amount as per your experience or package directions, diluted in ~1/2 cup cool water.
- 10-20 grams/2-4 teaspoons salt, (less if using skim or 1% milk, more if using whole milk).
- Place vat on heating device, ie smallest ring of stove.
- Pour milk & buttermilk into vat.
- Stir milk and trickle in vinegar.
- Heat ingredients using lowest setting to ensure don’t burn (or use double boiler) to 32 °C/90 °F.
- Stir in rennet pre-diluted in water for 1 minute maximum, cover vat and set aside for curd to form.
- After 30 minutes check if curd is firm and have clean break, if not, cover and set aside and check in another 15 minutes, repeat as required.
- Cut curd into 1/2 inch/1 cm “diamonds”, set aside for ~5 minutes.
- To help cut curds to expel whey, cook milk by slowly warming to 46°C/115°F. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- Place colander in kitchen sink, line with sheet of cheesecloth, and ladle or pour mix into cheesecloth. Wait 5-10 minutes (depending on weave of cheesecloth) for whey to drain down sink.
- Pick up corners of cheesecloth and twist curds into ball, then twist the cheesecloth gently to squeeze out excess whey.
- Place curd in bowl, break into small 1 cm3/0.5 in3 pieces.
- Sprinkle on salt, toss to distribute, set aside for 5 minutes.
- Place salted curds into food grade container as mold of your choice to shape cheese and pack down by hand to minimize air voids.
- Cover and place cheese in fridge overnight.
- Remove cheese from mold, consume immediately or place in air-tight food grade container in kitchen fridge.
- As Queso Fresco is a simple moist cheese, it has a short shelf life, consume within 1 week.
- If Queso Fresco after evening in fridge is too moist, next time squeeze tighter-longer to remove more whey, if too dry, squeeze less.
- If making large batch, can conserve drained whey and use for whey based cheese making like Ricotta, otherwise place colander in sink to discard whey down drain.