Here on Kea we make it with the milk our neighbors often give us. It is probably the first and simplest cheese ever made, and today the various commercial myzithra we get sometimes come from Crete –where is called anthotyro. Cheese makers make it now by adding fresh milk to the whey left from the first, usually the hard cheese they make, adding rennet to the milk.
If you can get leftover whey add fresh milk and do not add lemon or vinegar, just boil the whey with the milk and cream. Needless to say that if you make it with the usual cow’s pasteurized milk you get from the supermarket, combine it with goat’s milk, if you can, and add some cream –more or less, depending on how creamy and lush you want your myzithra.
Serve this delicious fresh cheese plain, as appetizer, sprinkling it with chopped herbs, shallots and garlic, or as dessert, drizzled with honey or jam. You can also use it to make savory myzithropita (cheese tart), or combine it with some feta cheese to make a Greek version of the cheese cake.
Makes about 1 pound soft cheese (you may double the quantities for more)
2 1/2 quarts (liters) full fat milk –preferably a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk
3/4 cup cream
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or 4-5 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Salt to taste
Place a colander lined with two layers of wet cheese cloth over a deep bowl.
If you are using unpasteurized milk, boil it in a deep pot, over medium heat, for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often.
Let it cool down to approximately 158º F (about 70º C). Add the lemon juice and cream, and stir over medium-low heat. When the milk starts to separate forming tiny clots, after about 15-20 minutes, stop stirring, raise the heat to medium-high, and continue cooking for about 8 to 10 minutes, until the temperature reaches 197-199º F (92-92º C).
The curds will now be large and creamy. Turn down the heat and leave it to simmer for about 8-10 minutes, without stirring.
With a slotted spoon, check if the liquid around the curds is transparent –don’t stir. Transfer the curds with the slotted spoon to the lined colander.
Allow the cheese to drain for 15-30 minutes or a bit more. If you have made a larger quantity, transfer to a cheese press or basket, to give it shape. Place the soft myzithra into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate, adding salt, if you like.
It keeps for 2-4 days. If you want to keep it longer you need to salt it heavily. But you can also store in the freezer, if you just plan to use it to make sweet or savory tarts.