Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fat Free Fromage Blanc!

Brian and Deana Dixon
Skim Milk Fromage Blanc Demonstrated by 12-Year Old, Deana

Remember Brian Dixon from the great state of Alaska?  (I posted an article in January with his story about making Mozzarella.)   Well, now he's bringing his daughter into the fun!  (She proves, yet again, that making cheese is so easy a 12 year old can do it!) 

Brian was looking for a way to reduce the calories in his soft cheeses and it appears that he accomplished his mission.  He is a master bread maker, so now he has a fat-free spread to slather on his homemade toast.  Check out his fabulous bread website for inspiration.
 


Father-Daughter Fat-Free Fromage Blanc 
By Brian Dixon - Featuring his Daughter, Deana
It's 10 degrees!!  Let's make cheese!!  (Yup …we were up late too)

My beautiful daughter Deana, 12 years old going on 19, has been watching my attempts at making cheese and has been showing more and more interest in it.  Fortunately, one of the dad-daughter things we like to do together is to cook nice things in the kitchen (usually sushi - Deana's fave), so why not invite her in and let her try making the Fromage Blanc?  After all, it's easy!

For this make, we chose to use Ricki's Fromage Blanc culture (with rennet already included) as I've used in the past with great success, but …I had it in mind to try a couple of experiments.  Rather than follow Ricki's instructions exactly, I wanted to try making the cheese with skim milk to see if I could get a good no-fat cream cheese type replacement for my morning bagel.  Also, reading that mesophilic cultures are happiest at 74 F through 86 F, I thought I'd experiment with the temperature a bit at the same time.  We chose 78 F for this make.
Here's Deana!  We're using Lucerne brand fat-free skim milk that has been both pasteurized and homogenized.  For once, I did not call the manufacturer to find out at what temperature it had been pasteurized at.  I don't know where you can buy this milk, since it worked great for us, but we bought it at our local Carrs/Safeway in Anchorage, Alaska.  (Sorry for the blur)
To begin with, we poured the chilled (38 F) milk into our 3-gallon stainless soup pot (actually a chili pot at our house!)
And here's Deana making a mistake …she trusted her ol' dad not to tell her to do the wrong thing!  I had completely forgotten to dilute the calcium chloride before having her add it and it got dumped directly into the cold milk (while stirring of course).  We added a 'fat 1/8th teaspoon' to one gallon of milk.  A 'fat 1/8th teaspoon' means the liquid calcium chloride was bulging above the rim of the teaspoon a tad.  Very scientific!
Because we chose not to use a water bath or double boiler for heating the milk, and do have a gas stove that generates a soft and evenly distributed flame, I had Deana heat the milk to 78 F on a medium low direct flame.
Once the milk had been heated, Deana sprinkled the culture evenly over the top of the milk, waited 5 minutes for it to re-hydrate, then mixed it into the milk with our milk ladle using a gentle up and down motion that did not allow the ladle to come out of the milk.
Once the culture had been mixed in, we covered the pot with a heavy blanket and let it rest undisturbed.  We'll know how well it worked tomorrow!
…12 hours later, Deana ladled the curds into a screen-type colander lined with 2 layers of butter muslin cheese cloth.  She carefully scooped the curds out, trying to keep them in unbroken large chunks …no cutting of the curds otherwise.
Here's a better look at the curds that we got.  The best yet!  Nice clean break without being too firm…
I had Deana gently tie the corners of the cheese cloth together, then we allowed the curds to drain for 30 minutes over a bowl.  Rumor has it that you should not dump whey into your septic system, so we collect all the whey and either make Ricotta or toss it in the woods behind the house for the bears to find in the Spring.
Here's a nice black bear bruin that my wife took a picture of about a mile from our house.
With the initial 30-minute draining over with, it was time to move the cheese to a spot where we could let it drain for a longer time, so we inserted our large chili-mixing spoon through the ties and…
…hung the cheese over my 5-gallon clean bucket that I reserve for brining foods (cleaned and sanitized with Idophor), then covered with a clean towel.
Here is the finished cheese about 6 hours later.  While it may look firm, it was not.  I had to place it into the bowl carefully to keep it in this shape.
At this point, I was really wondering how the texture and spreadability would be …but was not disappointed.  My last Fromage Blanc was made with whole milk (different brand) and for some reason, the curd did not complete as it should have.  It was correct and had a clean break at the top, but got progressively softer as it got closer to the bottom of the pot, the bottom layer being somewhat milky.  Perhaps the rennet was not quite active enough for that milk.  That make did however turn out a beautiful smooth Fromage Blanc that spread almost like a thickened sour cream.  This week's make didn't turn out as smooth like that, but was still quite soft and very spreadable.  I added 3/4 tsp salt.

For flavor, the skim milk Fromage Blanc was surprisingly good.  I had expected it to either be bland, low in flavor, or at least to lose some of the characteristic 'sour' or 'tang' that Fromage Blanc has.  Yes, the flavor was not as deep and rich as you'd get with whole milk, but also yes that it was very good and very satisfactory.  I have found a really good zero-fat spread that is delicious on bagels and breads!  (And I'm sure on quite a few other things …we have not tried making our usual smoked-salmon dip with it yet).  Yield?  We got about 2 pounds, 3 ounces of cheese from this make.  That's about 13% yield (if I calculated that right), which isn't bad for a fat-free make.
And here was our last motivation for making this cheese this weekend …cheesecake!  Boy did it turn out good and it brought out more of the cheese flavor, including the slightly sour tang that is soo good!  I asked my wife if she had added any sour cream or anything with cream (or milk fat) in it and she said, "Nope!  This is a fat-free cheesecake!  Chocolate of course!"  All in all, a great weekend with great food coming out of the kitchen again!  (Thanks, Ricki!)

5 comments:

jo said...

Great job! Deana made a great cheese.

Now ya gotta post the cheesecake recipe!!!

jo said...

Great Job Deana! Now all you have to do is post the cheesecake recipe!

DY said...

Hello,

You reference making ricotta with the leftover whey. I did not see any instructions, found on another blog to simply slowly bring it up to a full boil, and then let it cool to about ~100 degrees F. By that time the solids should have formed together and they can be scooped out.

Is this how you would go about making ricotta?

DY said...

Hello,

You reference making ricotta with the leftover whey. I did not see any instructions, found on another blog to simply slowly bring it up to a full boil, and then let it cool to about ~100 degrees F. By that time the solids should have formed together and they can be scooped out.

Is this how you would go about making ricotta?

Jeri said...

DY,
We have a recipe for making Ricotta with leftover whey on our website- http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/pg/217-Ricotta.html. Happy cheese making!