QUESO BLANCO (FRESH WHITE CHEESE)

Light and fluffy, queso blanco is a soft, unripened Latin American fresh cheese. It is an ideal alternative for store bought ricotta – mix with spices and salt before serving warm, or press into a ricotta basket and refrigerate to firm into a ricotta-textured cheese. Queso blanco is made the same way as lemon cheese and ricotta, except it uses vinegar so is milder in flavour. 
   
YIELD: AROUND 2 CUPS
   
INGREDIENTS:
2 litres fresh full cream milk (not UHT)
2-4 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon finely ground salt (optional)
Herbs or spices (optional)
   
METHOD:
1. Heat milk in a saucepan (over direct heat) until the milk starts to foam (do not boil). Remove milk from heat.
2. Stir in 2 tablespoons of vinegar. You should clearly see the curds splitting from the clear/milky whey immediately – if not, add a little extra vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice.
3. Rest mixture for 15 minutes.
4. Collect curd using a slotted spoon, being careful as the curd will be very soft! Place curd into a cloth-lined colander. Salt the mixture, adding spices for extra flavour if desired.  Tie cloth together and suspend for 10-15 minutes to remove excess whey. 
5. Serve fresh queso blanco – or refrigerate (cools into a ricotta textured cheese), or press using a weighted object (i.e. a milk carton) to make paneer cheese. Queso blanco can be served plain, salted, and sweet or savoury – try topping with maple syrup and pistachios, or add garlic and black pepper into the mixture whilst straining. Queso blanco can often be used as a ricotta alternative when cooking and is delicious as a layer in your next lasagne, but the best way is to enjoy warm (freshly made) with assorted cured meats, crispy bread, crunchy vegetables and fruit. 

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