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Curdled Milk, Salt or Sweet - Same text in French

For every step in the preparation, adding of rennet, sifting, pouring from one recipient to another, and conservation, complete cleanliness is of the utmost importance. Everything must be sterile, for just one parasite, a spot of yeast, a microbe, a bacterium, can spoil everything, and oblige the lot to be thrown away.

There are several ways of making karisheh or curdled milk, whether from milk of cows or of goats.

A. Raise the temperature of the milk over a fire, and once it has reached 60 or 80 degrees Celsius (140 - 157 Fahrenheit), add 10 grams of lemon juice for every liter and bring to the boil. Granules are formed, white matter like cheese, separated from the whey (serum). The resulting mixture can now be filtered through a sieve drop by drop so as to complete the separation of the two elements.

B. Scalding milk is lowered to a temperature of 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit), and then some laban or ordinary yoghurt is added (100 to 150 grams for every 5 liters). The liquid is then left undisturbed to ferment in some fairly warm place for 3 to 4 hours, the time needed for a complete and thorough fermentation. During the winter cold, 7 to 8 hours are needed. The result will now be yoghurt or laban; but if after an hour and a half of fermentation the pot is put over the fire, there will be separation of the whey (serum) and the white matter resembling cheese.

In the past, the goatherds used to prepare karisheh in the following manner:

The milk was taken fresh from the goat at the animal’s blood temperature of about 40 degrees Celsius and filtered through a sieve to ensure its cleanliness and to remove any foreign bodies such as hair, grass, seeds or straws, and then used raw without being pasteurized, for 10 liters of milk which could be divided as desired either –

5 liters and 5, or
7 liters and 3, or
8 liters and 2, etc.

To make cheese, dissolve one tablet of rennet (1 gram) in every 20 liters, in 5 liters ¼ tablet, with a spoonful of water and a little salt when the temperature is 35 – 40 degrees Celsius (95 – 104 degrees Fahrenheit). Leave the mixture undisturbed for 30 to 50 minutes, cut up, and stir a little the preparation which coagulates and solidifies. The whey gradually separates from the mixture and can be filtered off and kept in a receptacle. Remove the solid cheese and press it between the hands in order to squeeze out the water; alternatively place it in receptacles such as molds for it to dry out. All the water which is removed can be put on the fire to boil, after which one can add any remaining milk. Once the temperature is near boiling point, the milk must be skimmed with the use of a sieve and left to drip. This curdled cream can be either salted or sweetened with sugar, honey, jam or treacle.

It can be salted by sprinkling with salt and being turned over. One may also crush into this curdled paste some or all of the cheese already obtained in order to obtain a mixture to be left undisturbed in the refrigerator for several days before being eaten. The goatherds used to pour this curdled paste, after adding sea salt, into goatskins sewn into the form of sacks that were hung up in some cool corner and a delicious food was the result. This milky matter is the karisheh also known in Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, and the Eastern Mediterranean generally.

One may if one likes add two or three large serving spoons of salt to the whey that has dripped out of the cheese and bring it to the boil.

By trial and error one can obtain mastery of this traditional home preparation. On the industrial scale, the trade secret is the same but the procedure is mechanized.

To begin with, one may try with only five liters of milk in order to gain experience and then one may judge the results.

Joseph Matar
Translation from the French: Kenneth J. Mortimer



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