Making perfect queso fresco is easier than you think. You don't need special equipment or hard to obtain ingredients. You need milk, vinegar, and salt. That's it? Yup, that's it! Well you will need cheesecloth, but that's not really an ingredient. You will also need a good digital thermometer for accurate reading. So, let's make some queso fresco!
Before I go on I need to clarify something: queso fresco is curdled with acid, like lemon juice or vinegar, and queso blanco, a similar cheese is curdled with rennet, an animal enzyme that you can usually find it in the baking aisle of the grocery store. There are also some vegetarian rennet products, but I don't have any experience with them.
Cheesemaking is another hobby
I've tried making ricotta, and goat cheese. The process for making queso fresco is similar, and again, most of the times you will not need special ingredients. Mozzarella and burrata are next on my list. Being Latin American, I really had to try my hand at making queso fresco because you can use it in so many different ways. I like to spread it on baguette and top it with a bit of fig jam. Do you like nachos? Queso fresco is perfect over nachos.
Here are the visual steps to make queso fresco at home:
- Place the half gallon of milk in a large pot on medium heat. While the milk is heating place a colander over a large bowl and line colander with cheese cloth.
- Heat the milk to 170° F, remove from the heat and then add the vinegars to the milk and stir it a couple times. Let it sit for 30-45 minutes.
- Cut the curds with a knife.
- Using a slotted spoon remove the curds and add to the cheese cloth in the colander. Stir the salt into the curds once all the curds are in the cloth.
- After all the curds are in the colander gather the edges of the cheese cloth and form a ball and tie it off with butchers twine or some twist ties.
- Hang the cheese cloth over your sink faucet and allow to drip for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes you can form a ball from the curds, remove from the cloth. Press the curds into a flat disc and set it in the colander and allow to drip for another 30 minutes. Once it stops dripping you can place in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
The origins of cheese-making go back to approximately the 5th millennium BC, and is attributed to pastoral societies. Terracotta vats with what appear to be draining holes have been found at excavation sites. There is also evidence of cheese-making from drawings found in Egyptians tombs. By the time of the Roman Empire cheese-making was already an established art.
Love cheese? Here are some ways that you can enjoy your queso fresco and other Latin American Dishes
Arepas - Similar to tortillas, these are corn griddle cakes from Venezuela that are stuffed with stewed meat, herbs, cheese, plantains..really the choice is yours!
Jibarito - A Puerto-Rican inspired dish that actually hails from Chicago. Two planks of fried plantain make the "bread" for this sandwich.
Elote - A Mexican grilled corn on the cob topped with cheese, spicy mayo, and herbs. This is a crowd pleaser that people will love.
Shrimp Mofongo - Mashed and fried plantains are served in a tomato stew with buttery sautéed shrimp. How can you go wrong with this Puerto Rican dish?
Finally, please give this a try. Without a doubt you will find that how to make perfect queso fresco is super easy and very rewarding. And, don't forget to share with your friends.
How to Make Perfect Queso Fresco
Want to make queso fresco at home? Here is an easy recipe to make this homemade cheese that is a popular topping for tacos, nachos, enchiladas and tostadas. Many Latin foods use this ingredient and it is so easy.
- Place a cheese cloth lined colander over a large bowl of pasta pot.
- On medium heat bring milk to 170'F, stirring constantly to avoid uneven heating.
- When the milk reaches the desired temperature, remove from heat and add vinegar types. Stir a couple of times, then allow it to sit untouched on the stove top for about 30-45 minutes.
- Using a knife start breaking up the curds gently then start transferring to a colander using a slotted spoon.
- Allow the curds to sit untouched for about 30 minutes so they can drain properly. Add salt and stir lightly.
- Next, gather the edges of the cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine or a twist tie. Hang from your sink faucet, and allow it to drip for about 30 minutes.
- Remove from the cloth and using your hands gently mold the cheese into a flat disc, about 1" tall.
- Return to the colander and let it sit this way for about 30 minutes.
- Transfer cheese to a bowl, and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.