I'm a fly by night cook, tossing a handful of this, a sprig of that, into whatever I'm cooking. This lemon cheese is infinitely variable, depending on what is available from garden or pantry. I like to make it with milk from my Alpine goats, but it can also be made with cow's milk.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat one gallon of milk slowly to 190 degrees. As cavalier as I am about which herbs I use, the temperature is actually very important. I use a dairy thermometer, which goes up to 220 degrees, to get the most accurate temperature. When the milk has reached the right temperature, stir until it is gently swirling on its' own in the pot.
Drizzle the 4 TBS of lemon juice into the pot as the milk whirls. Take your time with this, as too much acid, or too much motion, too soon, can weaken the curd at this stage, and the acid in the lemon juice takes a moment to work it's magic. As the milk spins slowly in the pot, you can see the curd forming before your eyes.
At this stage, it will look like a foamy ricotta, floating atop a sea of clear, greenish-yellow whey.
If the whey looks milky, add a little more lemon juice, stir gently, and wait a moment. The curds will separate cleanly from the whey.
NOTE: You may need to use more than 4 TBS lemon juice if you are using fresh juice from Meyer lemons or lemons that just don't have as much acid as our lemons did.
Let the cheese float for a few minutes, then ladle, don't pour, it out into a cheesecloth lined colander.
Tie the cheesecloth into a bag and hang it over a sink or a pot to catch the drips. Let it hang and drain for 4-6 hours. The longer it hangs, the drier and firmer the finished cheese will become. If you prefer your cheese spreadable and soft, you may want to only hang it for 2 or 3 hours. However, if you let it hang for the full amount of time, it will be firm enough to slice into cubes by the end.
Cut the cheese into 1/2" cubes and put into a bowl. Pour olive oil over it, about 1/2 cup to start. Sprinkle 1-3 TBS salt over the cheese, depending on how salty you like it.
And now for the creative part!
This cheese can be spiced any number of ways. I love it with the grated rind of a Meyer lemon, black pepper, and a tablespoon or two of dried dill, sprinkled over and tossed with the oil.
For a different flavor, I also like to add a few tablespoons of oregano, basil and finely chopped rosemary. Sun dried tomatoes make a sumptuous addition, though you will need to increase the olive oil by another half cup, to soften and tenderize the tough tomatoes.
Olives, fresh arugula or parsley, also make fine additions.
This cheese can be eaten right away, but it is especially lovely if allowed to marinate all together in the fridge for a few hours, to allow the flavors to blend into one another and cool the curds down. Serve spooned over slices of a crusty loaf, or on crackers. Also a great topping for salads or pizza or pasta.
Head on over to the Home Cheesemaking section of our Homestead Library for more recipes, videos and expert advice for making delicious cheese at home!
Hope you enjoy this super easy, delicious lemon cheese recipe. Don't be afraid to play with your food - experiment with different marinades and see what you think!
It’s part of our mission here at Mountain Feed to help you make delicious, sustainable, homemade food more often. Stop by and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Or, as always, you can do it the old fashioned way and come by the store to speak with one of our in-house experts.
Keeping a great journal leads to delicious results! Get inspired by new recipes, expert articles and homemade food adventures in our Monthly Journal.