I am taking the liberty of sharing with the public what happened to me last week. It was a total astonishment and surprise to everybody who had some patience to follow the old fashion home cheese making process. But let’s start from the very beginning.
As all the immigrants from the Old Country experience, the White Anglo-Saxon community generally does not accept cultured milk products to be consumed raw. There are, of course, some recent exceptions, like yogurts, usually contaminated with high fructose corn syrup and over-processed fruits, or like buttermilk for pancakes and for Ranch dressing, or Feta cheese. Often, those cultured milk goods are pasteurized, anyway. As a result of such a habit, we miss one of the most popular dairy product, namely, fresh white cheese, which in Wisconsin is called quarg.
In order to provide our families with something that might resemble quarg, we have to mix expensive Farmers’ cheese with buttermilk and cottage cheese or drive long distance to the nearest ethnic food store and pay more than $5 per pound of a white cheese made somewhere near Chicago.
We may also want to make our own quarg that feels and tastes somewhat like the original, by adding a portion of biologically active yogurt to fresh milk. A day and half of incubation at around 90 deg F completes the job. One can use kefir as a starter or pharmaceutical probiotic capsules. Use of buttermilk for this purpose is strongly discouraged.
Well, to make a long story short, I had several packets of lactic cultures, designed and formulated in Poland, especially to use in industrial quarg making process. A funny aspect of the situation was that these starters have been kept in a freezer for more than twenty five years.
What a heck, I thought, let’s try. Coincidentally milk was on sale, so that eventual loss would be minimal in an instance of fiasco.
One culture package was unfrozen and inoculated on two cups of boiled and cooled 1% milk in a sterilized glass container. This make shift mother starter vessel was placed in an counter top convection oven and the temperature set at 85 Deg F.
And guess what. After a day and half, a beautiful precipitate, in other words curd was formed. In the industry, we call it porcelain type. It smelled fresh, without any foreign notes or showed no discolorations. Needless to say that after ripening for aroma at 68 deg F, we pitched it on a fresh 3.4% milk and saved some for the next batch.
The quarg that came out was exactly like the one in the Old Country except softer. Yet, such a consistency was achieved on purpose, since my beloved Wife likes it this way.
Unimaginable. Strong, active colony worked after over quarter-century hemibiosis in a freezer.
I think I should freeze myself as well.
(sometimes I’m under impression that I already have…)
Image from: http://www.doradcasmaku.pl