December 6, 2017

Fried Cheese

Remember fried cheese sticks? They were the rage once upon a time, usually mozzarella, sometimes cheddar, made by battering frozen cheese sticks and popping them into the deep fryer. Crispy on the outside, melty on the inside; a favorite of any cheese lover! When I found a photo of fried sliced cheese in David Asher's The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, I thought it would make a great side dish for burgers. 

The frying cheese I made is known in many cultures by different names. We usually see it called Paneer or Panir (Indian) or Queso Blanco (Mexican). The recipe is the same as for whole milk ricotta. In the U.S. it's sometimes called Farmer's Cheese, although that is more of a category of fresh cheeses than a specific kind. No matter the name, it's probably the simplest cheese to make.

  • 1 gallon milk (any kind except ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1/2 cup vinegar (any kind), lemon, or lime juice or 1/2 gal. yogurt or kefir
  • 2 - 3 teaspoons salt (optional)

Heat milk to boiling (stir to prevent scorching), gently stir in the vinegar, and let rest for about ten minutes. Carefully scoop out the curds, let them drain, salt if desired, and hang or lightly press in cheesecloth.

Yield: One gallon of milk gives me about two pounds of cheese. This is heavier than most, because boiling the milk plus adding an acid captures both milk proteins: casein and albumin.

Once it's cool it can be sliced or cubed and when cooked, it won't melt! That's what makes it popular for frying, plus all sorts of vegetarian dishes in place of tofu.

To fry: slice and brown in your favorite fat or oil.

Variation: In Northern Caucasia (where it's called Circassian cheese), slices are dipped in egg and bread crumbs before frying.

To store: As a fresh cheese it won't keep long, about a week without salting, several weeks with salt. It's one of the few cheeses that can be frozen, however, which is appealing to me since my milk supply is seasonal.

The flavor can be changed by changing the acid used and adding herbs and spices. After a successful plain version, I tried an Italian version.

  • 1 gallon milk
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 - 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup dried Italian herbs

To fry: slice and brown in extra virgin olive oil until crispy.

A delicious accompaniment to pasta and your favorite sauce!

Hopefully I can get a couple of these tucked away in my freezer before my experiments in cheesemaking come to an end for the year. I am now milking only one doe instead of three, so I have less milk to work with. She's giving me a gradually decreasing quart per day, but hopefully she'll stay in milk until kidding next spring. It won't be enough for cheese, but if it's enough to keep our kefir going I'll be happy.

I have one hard cheese aging in wax. Only one as an experiment in curing without a cheese cave. If it turns out well, I'll tell you about it.

Fried Cheese © Dec. 2017 by Leigh


Pioneer Woman at Heart said...

Oh that looks so good.

Kris said...

Hi Leigh, this looks easy and delicious. Quick question, do you really mean "or 1/2 GAL yogurt" in lieu of the vinegar/juice? That's a lot of yogurt. Thanks for variations too. I can buy whole milk at several stores now and want to try this. Take care, Kris

Leigh said...

Kristina, it's delicious! And I'm very happy to have found another side dish for our meals. :)

Kris, the 1/2 gallon yogurt (or kefir) comes from David Asher's book, The Art of Natural Cheesemaking. He says the yogurt makes an authentic Indian Paneer, which he learned to make from Punjabis. The larger amount (than vinegar) has to do with yogurt's lower acidity. He describes the resulting paneer as having "the most natural, delicate flavor." I don't make yogurt anymore, so I probably won't try it, but it is an option. You may be able to find contrasting recipes somewhere on the internet that call for less, but I've had such great success with David's recipes that I tend to trust them.

Ed said...

For some reason I was never a cheese lover for the first four decades of my life. Other than the occasional cheese burger, I avoided it for the most part. However, something changed and one day I started liking cheeses more and trying them. I still can't just sit down and eat a hunk of cheese by itself but I would probably eat that fried cheese ontop of my burger or with some crackers to go along with it.

Susan said...

I think I'm in love! I've made this cheese but never thought to fry it! OMG. I'm raiding my Jersey cow this weekend!

Harry Flashman said...

Fried mozzarella cheese sticks are still one of our favorite side orders at the restaurant in town where we have lunch sometimes. We both like them a lot.

Leigh said...

Ed, it's funny how our tastes change as we get older. I do find though, that once I got used to "real" cheese, the American flavored type slices are more like plastic. LOL

Susan, you've got to try it! It's even gluten free!

Harry, it's nice to know some restaurants still off fried cheese! It was always one of my favorites.

Mrs Shoes said...

Leigh, I didn't realize I could try making cheese with grocery store milk! I always just assumed it had to be raw milk. Thank you for enlightening me. :-)

Leigh said...

Oh yes. Mrs. Shoes, you can make cheese out of grocery store milk as long as it isn't ultra-pasteurized. UHT discombobulates the proteins so that they won't make curds.(I also read somewhere that it also makes milk protein indigestible.) Regular pasteurization is no problem, so go for it!

M.K. said...

I find your cheese-making adventures fascinating. This farmer's cheese sounds so easy, even I might try it! Adam is now our cook in the house, and it's amazing how not cooking has robbed my brain of many of the culinary skills I had. That Italian version sounds wonderful! And though we don't have goats, we do have lots of lovely herbs. Thanks!

Leigh said...

M.K., very easy! And lots of yummy possibilities for a cheese like this. :)

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Finally a moment to catch up on your blog. The cheese looks yummy, the barn is looking fantastic and you have me thinking about writing an e-book! Whewie. Life is busy yes?

Leigh said...

Donna, life is busy indeed! I thought about you writing an eBook for the B2B bundle! Add it to you maybe-someday list? In last year's prepper bundle someone included a fictional work, a sort of SHTF story. I think it's an excellent way to teach and impart information!

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

Hi Leigh, I am not that big a fan of cheese but I think my hubby would love to have a wife to make different cheeses! Nancy