Fromage Blanc is a soft cheese and is considered an easy cheese for beginners to make. It is French in origin and literally translates to "white cheese." It has the consistency of cream cheese but with a fraction of the calories and cholesterol.*
To Make Fromage Blanc:
Heat 1 gallon of milk to 86 degrees & mix in 1 packet. Let sit at room temperature (72 degrees), undisturbed, for 12 hours or until thickened like yogurt. Gently ladle the curds into a butter muslin lined colander, hang & drain for 6-12 hours. Refrigerate and enjoy!
We followed both the directions on the packet & the directions in Ricki Carroll's Cheese Making book.
Heating the milk went well, as did adding the packet. We covered the pot and moved it to the dining room, near the radiator, to sit overnight. This was about 7:20pm. ~ Our house isn't kept at 72 degrees, we keep it colder. Also, trying to find a place where it can be undisturbed for so many hours can provide a bit of a challenge. (Since this worked well I am now thinking of going and sitting in the dining room near the radiator when I need undisturbed time to myself)
A little after 8am the next day I ladled it all into the colander to drain. Since I don't have butter muslin I used 4 layers of cheesecloth, which seemed to work well. It drained nicely and, as soon as I could, I hung it up to continue.
~hung up & draining~
~a close-up shot of the whey draining off~
In Ricki Carroll's book she states that a shorter draining time will produce a thinner, more spreadable cheese whereas a longer draining time will produce produce a cheese that is more cream cheese like in it's consistency. We let ours drain almost 10 hours, in part because I wanted the cream cheese consistency and in part because of how our day was going .. it just worked out better for us this way.
Adding the herbs.
Of course we couldn't just let it be as it was. It was good, but the temptation was too great. We followed the recipe for "Herbes De Provence Cheese Spread" that is found in the same book. The recipe called for 1 TB herbes de Provence per 1 cup fromage blanc.
As you can see, we got about 2 1/2 cups of cheese out of the gallon of milk.
We added two heaping tablespoons of Herbes De Provence.
We also decided to add a head of roasted garlic and then a good tablespoon or so of honey.
We took this cheese along with some baguettes to our brewers guild meeting. We came home with only 1/2 the cheese left (and there was a lot of food there!). ~A good sign.
Fromage Blanc - our 2nd cheese. Absolutely delicious!! Fresh, herby, tangy, and sweet. The flavor is simple and yet complex. We will definitely make this again! We also look forward to experimenting more with draining times (and how it affects the consistency) along with add-ins. Simply delightful.
So we JUST realized that while we used the entire package, we only used 1/2 a gallon of milk. This is a common thing to goof up on when your milk comes in 1/2 gallon jars. It's easy to visually grab one jar and assume it was one gallon. This might explain why it was extra crumbly. However, it was still friggin' delicious!!! And, that means that we got 2 1/2 cups of cheese out of only a 1/2 gallon of milk!!! We're now looking forward to making it again even more!!!