I've recently discovered the beauty in a little milk gone sour. Growing up, we had a lot of milk go sour from thoughtless kids leaving the jug out all night long, and as far as I remember, we always just threw it out. Well, later in life, I learned that real buttermilk is milk gone sour, but it wasn't until recently that I started investigating this prospect of actually using spoiled milk. (I absolutely abhor to waste food. We actually eat all our leftovers in this house: usually.)
Well, not too long ago we had a little milk go sour and I decided to use it. I googled all kinds of sour milk recipes and we had some really yummy pancakes. And in the process, I found many articles on the "safety" of using soured milk. I was very surprised to learn that sour milk is tons safer to consume that fresh milk right from the cow. Apparently, there are 2 ways to remove bacteria from raw milk. One is to pasteurize, and the other is to let the milk sour. It seems the acidic environment created by the souring process kills all of the bad bacteria. So with this mental block out of the way I was determined never to throw out milk ever again; and in fact, I get a little excited now when some milk starts to sour.
Then last week, we got behind on drinking and I had an entire gallon go sour. we used a cup on a cake recipe, but there was so much yet to use (and if you wait too long, the flavor is not as good.) I decided to try my hand at cheese. I had a recipe for cottage cheese, and did some more googling on cheese making, and decided to make my first cheese a hard cheese rather than a cottage cheese.
Unfortunately, I didn't think to take pictures of the process, but it was relatively easy. You take milk that has gotten to the "chunky" stage, heat it in a double broiler until the curds separate from the whey (remember Miss Muffit?), cool a little, add salt, and then pour through a cheese cloth to remove all the curds from the whey. Depending on how much whey you drain out, your cheese will be soft curds for cottage or ricotta cheese, or harder like mozzarella. I hung my cloth to dry for a few hours and pressed it overnight, and in the end, I got this from a little less than a gallon of milk.
There was also over a half gallon of whey left over from this process. Most of the recipes I saw said to just throw it out or feed it to the chickens; but I was determined to find a use for it. It's a shame to throw it out because it's just loaded with proteins and other great stuff from the milk. After a little more research on the internet I found some great ideas. You can use it to boil noodles or potatoes in, or even better, use instead of water in making soup or instant potatoes or gravy. I'm very excited about this not wasting thing!
Tonight, I made my first dish with our homemade cheese. I made Italian for dinner, so I chopped up some cheese, cherry tomatoes, and sprinkled with basil and balsamic vinegar (a caprise appetizer we had at Macaroni Grill once and just loved: only they used mozzarella.)
The homemade cheese is blander than mozzarella, but it worked very well in this dish. We all enjoyed it, even my girls. I understand it's also very good in any dish you might put tofu in, because it soaks up all the flavors of whatever it's in. I want to try a Thai stir fry next.
Next batch I'll add a bit more salt to cut the bland and I want to try adding some flavors to the curds before draining the whey. Maybe peppers for a pepperjack experience, or just garlic and herbs. Mmmm. I can't wait for another gallon to go "bad."