Fresh Cheese

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    a cup

Appears in

Welcome to Claire's: 35 Years of Recipes and Reflections from the Landmark Vegetarian Restaurant

Welcome to Claire's

By Claire Criscuolo

Published 2014

  • About

I love the inquisitive look on the faces of passersby when we have our fresh cheese hanging in the front window. And, of course, I love serving it, spread on toast or paired with grapes and a glass of wine.


  • 1 quart organic low-fat milk
  • Juice from 2 organic lemons (about 6 tablespoons)
  • Sea salt (optional)


  1. Prepare a double boiler. Pour the milk into the top pot, then attach a thermometer inside the pot.
  2. Set the double boiler over high heat and heat the milk to 170°F. Meanwhile, set a mesh strainer or a colander over a bowl big enough to hold a quart of liquid. Line the strainer with a double thickness of cheesecloth, overlapping the sides by about 4 inches all around.
  3. Place a long wooden spoon across a second large bowl. Set the bowl aside on the counter by the stove until later—you’ll need it to drain the cheese.
  4. When the milk reaches 170°F, carefully remove the top pot from the bottom one. Set the top pot on the stove over an unlit burner. Remove the thermometer. Stir in the lemon juice, stirring well to combine. Set aside for about 10-15 minutes, until you see the milk turn a yellow-green. Using a slotted spoon, gently stir the milk; when there are small curds (little lumps), it’s ready.
  5. Carefully turn the liquid into the cheesecloth-lined strainer, being careful to keep the overlapping cheesecloth in place. Lift the cheesecloth by the edges, then tie the ends into a loose knot (the bundle will be dripping). Slip the knot over the spoon and hang the cheesecloth over the pot to collect the liquid as it drains. Reserve the whey (the liquid left behind after you collected the curds in the cheesecloth) and use it when making bread or a soup, as you would buttermilk. Drain the cheese for about 15 minutes or until it stops dripping. Turn the cheese out of the cheesecloth onto a plate and sprinkle lightly with sea salt if desired. Enjoy it warm or chilled. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to a day.