Described as an intangible cultural heritage of Brazil by UNESCO. QUEIJO MINAS is, without a doubt, the element I miss the most in my breakfasts. I grew up in Minas Gerais, where queijo Minas, bread, butter, COFFEE, and milk are ESSENTIALS. I’ve seen this cheese being sold for $25 here in the U.S. , and I thought to myself .. “OH HELL NO!!!”. So, I found the recipe online, adapted it slightly, and recreated it at home. I’m not going to say that I’m mad at the final taste 'cause I am not! I most likely will tweak it a little bit more the next time to get the most authentic taste though. Meanwhile, these are the ingredients and recipe for the cheese I made.
NOTICE: Low-fat content milk may produce cheeses that are more prone to taste bitter or be dry.
2 gallons of whole milk (1 gallon has 3.78 liters)
4 tablespoons of fine ground salt
1. Pour the two gallons of milk into a big pot
2. Add 4 tablespoons of salt (or as much or as little as you find appropriate)
3. Heat the milk to 36°C (97°F) - turn off the heat
4. Dilute ½ tablespoon of rennet in ¼ cup warm water and mix it into the milk
5. Add another ½ tablespoon of rennet straight to the mixture and stir well
6. Let it sit in the pot for 1 hour so the rennet can do its thing (it might take a little less or longer, depending on the type of milk you are using. Just keep monitoring your mixture)
7. Cut the curd into cubes
(Lessons learned: I was unable to cut my curd because I stirred the curd too much after it had already been formed. So, just let it rest for the 1 hour and cut it into cubes.)
8. With a ladle, scoop the cups off the whey and place it in a strainer. Use your hands (clean hands) to help the whey drain of the curd. (You may also want to use a kitchen cloth or a cheesecloth.)
(Lessons learned: At first, I tried to strain the curd in the cheese mold press, but it was too messy and not efficient. I ended up straining separately and bringing it later to the mold.)
9. Place the curd in the cheese mold press and press the mass until you have a dense cheese with the height of your choice.
10. Let the cheese drain for 30 minutes off the fridge on a plate.
11. Remove any whey that remains on the plate and let the cheese sit in the fridge for 3 days so it can mature.
Your Queijo Minas is good to be eaten 3 days later.
NOTICE: For a cured traditional Minas Gerais cheese, leave it out of the fridge for a few days over a wood board. Keep on turning it around every 12 - 24 hours (I’m still curing my cheese!)
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