Homemade Telemea Cheese

Homemade Telemea Cheese

A few months ago, as I was buying cat food from the pet shop, I saw in the window some packets of rennet for making cheese. I instantly remembered how we used to make at home cheese with curds (that's how it's called in Moldova) or telemea cheese. We only had cow's milk, so we would use it to make the cheese. It was delicious and it had a perfectly balanced taste, salty, sweet and sour at the same time.

Meanwhile, I've discovered in Bucharest the vending machines selling fresh whole milk (they are called Ferma Ancutei, I think). Suddenly, I had everything I needed to start making homemade telemea, just like my mum's. It was extraordinary and I want to show you the simplest way to make it at home and how to adjust its texture and taste.

First thing you need is to buy a packet of rennet for making cheese (you can see the one I bought in the photo at step 1) and find raw whole milk, not pasteurized!

Ingredients

Milk
5 l
cow, sheep, goat - any milk. It's important to be raw or unpasteurized.
Cheag pentru branza
3 tbsp
prepare the curd according to the instructions on the package.
Salt
250 g
NON IODIZED salt - it's important!

Step by step

1

This is the packet of curd that I found at the pet shop. I prepared it with water according to the instructions. You can keep this liquid in a jar for a long time in the fridge and use it to make homemade cheese for a whole year.

I normally use 3 tbsp curd liquid for 5 litres of milk.

2

Pour the milk in a big pot and place over the heat.

Stir often and check the temperature with your finger, it should be fairly warm, but not hot. As my mum used to say once, it should be as warm as when it's freshly milked.

When people used to make cheese at the sheepfold, they didn't heat the milk, they just milked the sheep and mixed the milk with the curd.

3

To be more accurate, I used the cooking thermometer - the milk is about 35 degrees now.

4

Pour 3 tbsp rennet into the pot.

The quantity of rennet may vary depending on the producer, check the package.

5

Mix well and allow it to curdle for 3-4 hours at room temperature.

After 3-4 hours, the curd will have a sweetish taste, specific to telemea. If you leave it for 5-6 hours or overnight, the taste will be sour, fermented. We like it slightly more sour, feel free to try and see what you like best.

6

After the milk has curdled, start mixing it gently (with slow moves and no rushing) with a spoon or spatula.

See what it looks like now, at the beginning, big lumps of curds, full of whey.

7

Keep on stirring gently with up and down moves.

During this slow process, the whey separates from the curds.

8

In 4-5 minutes you will already be able to see the difference, the curds will be more visibly separated from the whey.

9

This is what the mixture should look like when it's ready to be strained.

10

Line a big colander with a large piece of cheese cloth, maybe even 2 layers (I used a fine mesh curtain fabric). Set the colander over a bowl or a pot for the whey to drain.

Shake the cloth gently so that the whey can drain very well.

11

Secure the cloth with a knot.

12

Find a good place where to hang it - I found a hook and I hung the cheese right on the kitchen shelf.

At my mum's we used to have some big special hooks for hanging the telemea or we would hang it on the drawer pulls in the kitchen.

13

Place a bowl under the hanging cloth to collect the dripping whey.

This is what my installation for making homemade telemea looks like. I recommend straining the cheese for at least 8 hours, or even more, if you want denser telemea.

If you leave it for longer, for more than 12 hours, say, the cheese will begin to ferment and it will have a slightly sour taste (this only in case it curdled for only 3 hours).

So, you can adapt the taste and the texture according to your likes and in the steps you want - either when curdling or when straining the cheese.

14

At the end, I removed the cheese cloth - out of 5 litres of whole 4% fat milk I made about 645g homemade well drained telemea.

15

Cut into 4 large pieces which you can eat as such, fresh, with some salt on it, like a sweet cheese - it's wonderful in salads, cut into cubes.

I like to sprinkle big chunks of telemea with a very thin layer of non-iodized salt. I arrange the chunks in a dish with a lid and I refrigerate for at least 24 hours, so that salt is properly absorbed and the cheese has time to mature.

16

Here is another batch of homemade telemea. This is the young cheese, cut into 4.

17

If you are not going to eat the slightly salted telemea within a week, I recommend preparing a brine this way: 

- boil 1 litre water and add 200g non-iodized salt;

- stir to dissolve the salt and let cool completely.

18

Dip the cheese pieces in cold brine and keep in the fridge.

The cheese will certainly be saltier after that, but you can keep it in cold water for an hour before serving, and so it will have a perfect taste.

19

This homemade telemea is wonderful, children love it and, for me, it tastes like childhood memories.

Enjoy!

Quantity: 700 g
Prep time: 180 min
Difficulty: easy
Ready in: 30 min
Publish date:
Collections: Appetizers

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