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History Cookbook: Easy Cheese

This recipe is in categories Normans / Medieval, Healthy eating
About this recipe
Healthiness : (169 votes)
Difficulty:  2 out of 5 difficulty

Method 1: A little patience but no cooking required.

Method 2: Boil the milk, cool and curdle with a food acid like lemon juice

Preparation Time: Once you have your curds and whey, 10-15 mins
Cooking Time: None
Number of servings: Makes between 8-12 balls or 1 large cheese
Serving suggestions: Serve with crusty bread, fish and salads.

This is, strictly speaking, not a real cheese as no rennet is used. It does not keep and should be used within a day or two. It is one of those accidental recipes which is probably as old as dairy products, but was likely to have been made in Saxon times and continued to be made into Medieval and Tudor times, as it appears in recipe books of these periods.

At a demonstration, a gentleman told E2BN that his mother made it in the Second World War to use up milk which was turning, as nothing could be wasted; so we have also included this recipe in the WW2 catagory as well as the Anglo-Saxon category.

This new cheese can also be made into Saxon Cheese Spread.
  • 2-4 pints of full fat unpasturised milk
  • OR 2-4 pints full fat pasturised milk, only for use with heating method and a little lemon juice or vinegar
NB Different cheeses balls can be made by mixing any of the following into the cheese: salt and pepper, chives, onion, garlic, dried apricots, chopped apple, so decide on your flavouring ahead of time.
  • Lidded container
  • Clean cloth
  • Bowl
  • String
  • Food ring (optional)
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

Method 1:  For unpasturised milk

  1. Leave milk (sealed in its plastic container - this stops bacteria getting in) outside for 1-2 days in a shady place 
  1. Check daily until the milk has begun to separate but the milk has not gone off (Alternative: If you want to speed this up you can sour your milk by adding a little lemon juice - this does make a sharper tasting cheese.)
  2. Open the seal and tip the lumpy contents into the center of a rinsed (hot water-no soap!) clean cloth which has been laid across a medium sized bowl NB: the milk should smell slightly sharp but should not smell unpleasant, discard if the contents smell bad - you have left your milk too long!

Method 2: For pasturised milk

  1. Boil the milk in a saucepan, taking care that it does not boil over.
  2. Cool the milk and add enough drops of lemon juice to curdle the milk.
  3. Tip the lumpy contents into the center of a rinsed (hot water-no soap!) clean cloth which has been laid across a medium sized bowl 
For both:
  1. Gather the edges up over the lumpy curds. Tie a cord around the gather, making sure the curds can't escape
  2. Hang the cloth bag just above the bowl so the liquid (whey) can drip out into the bowl
  3. Leave the bag to drip for 24 hours. The curds should be firm in the bag and no longer sticky
  4. Remove the bag and tip the curds into a bowl and mix well
  5. If you have a food ring,you can press the cheese into a food ring and serve it as a whole baby cheese, or you can take small handfuls and make into cheese balls
  6. Try splitting the curds and adding different ingredients to the balls to provide variety.

    The cheese should be slightly buttery in taste
Easy Cheese - print view  Easy Cheese - print view

If you tried this recipe and liked it, tell us about it
There are 9 comments for this recipe.
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Name: Margaret 16th July 2018
What else besides rennett can i use?
Name: Jaysee 10th March 2017
This is a lovey fresh cheese. Whateveryou do, don't throw the whey out. It can be used in cooking or you can drink it, add it to smoothies, pour it over your porridge - all sorts of things, It's very good for you
Name: Friederike 8th December 2016
Fir the second method, why do you need to boil the milk first when you cool it down before adding the lemon juice? What temperature should it be when adding the lemon juice?
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