If you ever have gone to an authentic Mexican restaurant, you may have noticed that the cheese there isn't in "string" form. Instead, it's a white, crumbly substance that is savory, crumbly, and cheesy. This substance, as you might know, is queso fresco — and it's amazing!
It tastes delicious, can be added to any taco with ease, and also just has an amazing texture. The only problem with queso fresco is that it is really hard to find in grocery stores. The reason why it's so hard to find is because queso fresco literally translates into "fresh cheese," and that means that it should be made and enjoyed fresh.
If stored too long, queso fresco loses its flavor. So, it's ideally eaten the week it's made — which is often too short a time frame for most companies to work with it. Thankfully, it's easy to make and doesn't require too many ingredients, either. So, if you love that classic Mexican flavor, you might as well learn how to make queso fresco on your own.
Before we tell you how to make queso fresco, you need to make sure you have all the ingredients and supplies you need on hand.
Believe it or not, making queso fresco is actually really easy — and it doesn't require any exotic ingredients.
In order to make queso fresco, you will need a bowl, a cheesecloth, a colander, and a saucepan. The three basic ingredients are milk, white vinegar, and coarse kosher salt. For this recipe, you'll need:
- 2 quarts milk
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 3-4 tablespoons white vinegar
If you have all those on hand, then you're ready to learn how to make queso fresco using actual practice.
The first step is to heat up the milk and make it salty.
Learning how to make queso fresco is actually fairly simple. You start off by heating two quarts of milk in a saucepan. Once the milk has gotten warm, you'll need to add 1 tablespoon of coarse kosher salt. Stir it gently.
Wait until the milk has gotten to a boil, then add three tablespoons of vinegar.
Watch the milk and stir it once you've added the vinegar. The acid should end up making the milk divide into curds and whey. This separation should be almost immediate. If it's taking a while, then you may need to add an additional tablespoon of vinegar.
Keep stirring for a short time — maybe one to two minutes. You should notice that the milk has divided into curds pretty well by then.
Once everything's divided up, it's time to take the saucepan off of the heater and strain the cheese.
Figuring out when is the "magic moment" is the hardest issue when it comes to the actual practical side of learning how to make queso fresco, so if you aren't sure, use a spoon to see if you can see cheese curds forming. (Or, you know, go with your instincts — we won't judge!)
Then, drain the curds into a cheesecloth-lined colander in the sink.
Let the cheese sit for 5 to 10 minutes, and then squeeze out the remaining juice. Use your hands to form it into a ball, crumble it up, and it's ready to serve. Ta da! You now know how to make queso fresco!
It's worth noting that you can also let it sit with a weight on top of it for up to two hours if you want a firmer cheese. That being said, once you have truly fresh queso fresco, it's hard to imagine that you ever could want to buy this cheese from a store again.