In a few of the recipes I have posted recently, I have used mizithra cheese. Mizithra is an incredibly popular cheese in Greece and it comes in both dried and fresh versions. In Greece, mizithra is made from either goat, sheep or cow’s whey to which whole milk is sometimes added. Mizithra is one of the simplest cheeses to make: milk is brought to a slow boil for a few minutes and then curdled by adding rennet or whey from a previous batch or an acidic substance such as lemon juice, vinegar or - in some cases, a fresh broken sprig from a fig tree. As soon as curds have formed they are poured into a cheesecloth bag and hung to drain. The whey dripping out of the bag can be used to curdle the next batch of mizithra.
A fresh chalky white colour, this slightly sweet cheese is perfect with honey, fruit and nuts. It is also used to fill all manner of small pies, such as the kalitsounia of Crete.
The fresh version of mizithra cheese may also be salted and hung to dry from cheese cloth, in the shape of a ball. The hard aged mizithra is the most traditional grating cheese in Greece. It is perfect grated on garlicky, tomato sauce doused pasta - real summer holiday food!
But back to the fresh mizithra. It's pretty much impossible to buy here in Australia, so I've taken to making my own. While it's not 100% the same as the beautiful mizithra of Greece - it is a good substitute. If you want a lighter style cheese, you can just use an extra cup of goat's milk in place of the cream.
Easy homemade mizithra (μυζήθρα)
This recipe makes about 250g of mizithra. The use of goat milk in the recipe makes for a strong goat's cheese taste. If you prefer, substitute with whole, organic unhomogenized cow's milk - or a half/half blend. If you use homogenized milk, or milk with a low fat content you may need to double the amount of lemon juice used.
Traditionally, this cheese would be made by using whey from other cheese making. The whey is boiled and the milk and lemon juice (noted below) is added and whisked gently until curds form. If you have whey, you can try this method. Otherwise, proceed with the recipe below.Ingredients
3 cups (750ml) goat milk (or whole, unhomogenized cow's milk if you prefer)
1 cup (250ml) double (thick) cream
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt flakes
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, strained
1. Line a colander with two pieces of muslin or cheese cloth and set this over a large (deep bowl).
2. In a pot with a heavy base put the milk and cream. Heat the milk and cream mixture until lukewarm and stir in the salt. Then bring the mixture to the boil while stirring constantly. As it just starts to boil, add the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for 2 minutes. If the milk does not curd, add a little more strained lemon juice.
3. Remove the pot from the heat, cover the pot with a lid and leave at the side of the stove, undisturbed, for 10 minutes to half an hour.
4. Ladle the mixture into the prepared colander. Let the curd drain for a while, and when most of the whey has drained out, then scrape down the cheese from the sides of the bowl. You can tie the ends of muslin together and then suspend it from a shelf in the fridge, over a bowl to catch the drips, and leave it for another 2-6 hours to drain thoroughly. Turn the mizithra out of the muslin and store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.