Queso Fresco is originally from Mexico in the mid-1800s. Back then, there was no culture used, cheese maturing was not as common for them and refrigeration wasn’t a thing. However, the craze for Queso Fresco over the years has gotten larger and larger and Queso Fresco is just as popular, if not more popular today. You can find Queso Fresco at your local grocery store and it is commonly used still in Mexican cooking. Queso Fresco is typically made with either goat or cow’s milk and can be made fresh or lightly pressed and aged a couple of days.
In the Queso Fresco recipe below, the cheese is fresh and has a mild flavor that’s very quick to achieve. This makes it a fantastic recipe that is absolutely perfect for beginners in cheesemakers to get comfortable navigating the cheesemaking process before moving on to other recipes.
Queso Fresco simply means “fresh cheese” in Spanish, which is very fitting as the cheese itself does not need to be aged at all. When you create Queso Fresco in your own home, you can easily control its texture and the outcome of it. The curds in Queso Fresco can be pressed into a firmer cheese or can simply be sliced, crumbled, or even fried. That being said, Queso Fresco cheese doesn’t actually melt like other cheeses do and instead crumbles. It has a mild, tangy and almost similar to farmer’s cheese in taste.
Other than topping popular Mexican dishes with Queso Fresco, because it crumbles so nicely, it also pairs great on top of a salad, corn on the cob, or it can even spice up your traditional cheesecake recipe with it and add some additional flavor. You can add it to some cube watermelon, garnish a soup, simply balance rich, spicy dishes with Queso Fresco.
Queso Fresco is a healthier option when it comes to cheeses too. It’s lower in fat and although it tastes quite salty, it’s also lowers in sodium than other aged cheeses as well. All that being said, because of its freshness, it’s best to eat Queso Fresco within a few days to a week or it will go off.
Aging: N/A or a couple of days
Skill Level: Beginner
- 1 gallon of Whole Milk
- 1/4 tsp mesophilic starter
- ¼-½ cup of white vinegar
- 1 tsp of cheese salt
Heat the Milk & Add Cultures
- Heat your milk up. When it reaches 185F you can start to add your culture in and carefully stir thoroughly until combined.
- You can do this by placing the milk in a pot or sink of very warm water. If you do this step on the stove, be sure to slowly heat the milk and stir to avoid burning.
- Allow your milk and culture mixture to ripen for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- You want to start slowly with adding the vinegar to the milk mixture. Start with just by adding ¼ cup first and work your way up to ½ cup of vinegar if needed. You want to be careful not to add too much vinegar so it’s best to start slow.
- Continue to stir until the milk coagulates
- Allow the milk and vinegar mixture to rest for at least 10 minutes
Drain the Cheese
- Using a ladle, carefully transfer the curds into a colander that’s lined with cheesecloth.
- Form the cheesecloth into a draining bag by pinching the side together.
- Allow it the curds to hang dry for at least 30 minutes
Salt the Cheese
- After your cheese is done drying, move the curds to a bowl and salt your curds. It’s best to use your hands for this step to ensure that all the curds are properly and evenly salted.
Mold the Cheese
- Line 2 cheese molds with cheesecloth and carefully fill them with curds.
- Press lightly on the cheese molds for at least 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, cover the molds with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for an additional hour to settle.
- Enjoy your cheese right away or within a week in the refrigerator.