Greater chefs and cooks than me have already done the hard science and legwork on making ricotta/paneer/queso fresco at home, but I wanted to try my hand at it anyway. There is no innovation on my part, just a deep abiding love for the work of eaters over the past centuries. Cheese is normally relegated to the realm of experts and masters, but quick cheeses (those acidified with vinegar or lemon juice instead of rennet) are firmly within the grasp of the home cook.
- 1 gallon Whole Milk (avoid UHT milk, the high temperatures delivers a milk that will not curdle)
- 1/3 cup Distilled White Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- Heat the milk in a large stockpot until it is between 175 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- When it has reached the correct temperature and is steamy and frothy, remove it from the heat and add the vinegar. Stir gently.
- The curds will immediately form, allow them to sit for ten minutes.
- Spoon the curds out of the stockpot into a strainer lined with cheesecloth over a deep bowl. The whey will drain out of the cheese leaving you with a soft spreadable treat. Drain as much liquid out as you like, the more you remove, the harder the cheese will be (running the gamut from spreadable ricotta to crumbly queso fresco).