Garlic and Basil Farmers Cheese

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As I was looking around the cheese and wine room of one of my favorite Italian stores (Mazzaro’s Market), I remembered a cheese that my grandma Jean said she used to make as a child with her grandma Arminda.  So that would be my great great grandmother.  Below is a picture of these two wonderful woman.

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I never had the privilege of meeting this great great grandmother of mine, but I feel like I knew her well.  A few years before my grandmother Jean passed, she asked the family to go through old pictures of the family to see which everyone would like to have.  Of course, I flew up from Florida and went through them with her.  We spent hours on end for many nights going through pictures and her telling me stories of her childhood.  I took my scanner along and made copies of every picture she had.  This was one of my most cherished memories with her.  I learned so much of my family those nights with her.  One thing was that grandma Arminda was her favorite grandmother.

Not sure where this memory came from as I was standing there in front of all those fabulous cheeses at Mazzaro’s, but I am glad it did.   So it was off to home to find the recipe for this cheese.  To my amazement, it is one of the easiest things to make.  It seems that in the northern mid-west this was a cheese made by farmers, and is an un-aged soft cheese with a very mild flavor.  You can though add different things to flavor it as you would like.  It is a very soft, and easily melting cheese.  You can use it in many recipes, or as I did, just use as a delicious snack with some toasted bread or crackers with apples or grapes.  It is amazing.

Y’all give this a try and I think the next time you have a party, it will find a place on your cheese platter.

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

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Warm milk in a large sauce pan to 180 degrees.  Stir constantly so you do not scorch the milk on the bottom of the pan. 

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Steam from the milk steamed up the picture and thermometer.

 

Once it reaches the 180 degrees, pour in the lemon juice and slowly stir with a wooden spoon till you seed curds developing.  Then leave sit for 10 minutes without stirring.

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Line a colander with cheese cloth.  I like to use a double layer to keep small curd from going through. 

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Once the milk has sat for 10 minutes and the curd has separated from the whey, pour it into the lined colander and allow the whey to drain for 10 minutes. Gather up the edges of the cheesecloth, and tie a string around the top to form bundle. Tie the string to a wooden spoon or dowel, and hang the cheese curds over the stockpot and continue draining for 30 minutes. 

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At this point you can save the whey for future use or discard.

Place the drained cheese curd in a bowl and add the garlic, basil and salt.  Mix well then shape into a log or place in a sealable bowl.  It stores well for up to 5 days in refrigerator.  Feel free to make changes to this recipe with your favorite additions.  Grandma Jean said that grandma Armina used to make it with raisins and crushed walnuts.  It is also a good replacement for ricotta in recipes.

Whatever y’all do, don’t let your family history and memories disappear.  Talk now with your grandparents and parents.  Get in the kitchen with your elder family members and learn the traditions of your family.  You will never regret this time you spend with them, and the memories you will gather and treasure for years to come.

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