Queso Blanco Recipe

I became very annoyed the first time I made queso blanco. The reason? It’s so easy that I can’t believe I hadn’t done it before. I mean, it takes under an hour to prepare and about an hour to drain. How could I possibly justify not making it anymore? Well I can’t. And I don’t.

At one point earlier this year I was making two batches of this stuff a week. It doesn’t melt, so it keeps its nice crumbly texture even when heated. Queso blanco is delicious on tacos, and it’s good enough to eat straight out of the carton. Not that I do that or anything.

You don’t really need any special equipment for this other than a thermometer. I’ve used the little glass ones before and it works just fine, but I highly recommend using a probe-style clip-on variety.  It will make the process a bit easier.

Making queso blanco requires heating the milk up to a very high temperature. Since we have the pot directly on the heat to get to this temperature, it’s possible that you could scald your milk unless you stir constantly.  You don’t have to stand over the pot the entire time, but make sure to check on it every few minutes.  Otherwise, your cheese will taste burnt.  It’s pretty gross.

While I wait for the milk to heat up, I boil my butter muslin and get my draining station set up.  Boiling your muslin will keep any undesirable bacteria from contaminating your cheese.  This is science here, so try and be as close to sterile as you can!

Taking a bath!My draining station is merely a colendar that is set on top of a cutting board.

Boil the muslin for a few minutes, then carefully line the colendar with it. Make sure your hands are washed and try and stick to touching only the corners. When you’re done, it should look a bit like this:

Feed me curds!Once your milk gets to 185°F, remove it from the heat and slowly add your vinegar and then stir well.

You should start to see the curds precipitating almost immediately.

There should be a clear separation between the curds and whey – that is, the whey should be clear.  I added one more tablespoon of vinegar to the pot to improve my yield.

All that’s left is pouring the curds in to your draining station.

Let the curds settle for a minute or two, then start tying up the sides so the bag can hang.

I use a rubber band as a hanger…

but you can really use anything.  When it comes to hanging, you can always improvise and keep the bag suspended in your sink like this:

I usually do something like this:

Just don’t tell any engineers or carpenters!

Once it’s done draining, remove the curds from the muslin and add salt.  I never really weigh it, I just add it to taste.  If you want a ballpark figure, start with two teaspoons and then keep adding.  You shouldn’t need more than three.

Queso Blanco

1 gallon whole milk
1/4 c. vinegar

  1. Pour the milk in to a large stock pot.
  2. Heat slowly with constant stirring until the temperature reaches 185°F.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and slowly trickle in the vinegar.
  4. If the whey still looks milky, add an additional tablespoon of vinegar.
  5. Pour the curds in to a colender lined with butter muslin.
  6. Tie the ends of the muslin together and hang the curds for about an hour.
  7. Remove the cheese from the muslin and add salt to taste.

Yield: 1 1/2 pounds
Use within one week.

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