Ingredients: as always in cooking, ingredients are the key. In fact, there is only one ingredient in the 'classical' recipe: natural milk. The 'classical' recipe is most simple: put milk in a warm place and make it sour. Separate whey from curd, let curd dry out by hanging it in a 'sack' made of several layers of gauze and letting it drip. However, although great with natural milk, it doesn't really work with pasteurized milk (that you can buy in a grocery store) since all the important bacteria is gone. Therefore, it takes two components to curdle the milk: milk and yogurt that has the needed bacteria. The choice of milk is pretty much straight forward: any fatty milk would do. We usually buy a gallon (in plastic container) of whole milk Any milk of your choice would do. However, you do want fatty milk (at least 2%). The choice of the second ingredient (yogurt) is very important. We usually use buttermilk, but, as we found out, there is only one brand that really works. You can buy it at "Whole foods" store in the milk/yogurt section. It comes in a 32 oz. plastic bottle that says "Plain Lowfat Kefir" on it. Ironically, 'kefir' IS buttermilk in russian. You want "Plain kefir" without any flavors. So, two basic ingredients: a) 1 gallon of 3.2% fat milk and b) Lifeway "Plain Lowfat Kefir" from WholeFoods.measures conversion [+]
2.1 Open the plastic milk container and pour half a glass out (to free up some space for kefir). Add half a glass or even a cup of kefir into the milk. Close the cap and put milk in a warm place (NOT fridge!!!). You may shake milk a bit so that kefir mixes with milk, although it is not really necessary.
2.2 Wait until curd starts forming and separating from whey (liquid part). Sometimes it may take 2 or 3 days. It depends on milk, room temperature, etc. Once you can see curd-like formations or whey in the plastic milk container, it's ready for the next step.
2.3 Pour contents of the milk container (both whey and curd) into a large pot. Put the pot on a stove and warm it up on "warm" or "medium" for 20 to 30 minutes. The whole purpose of this "warming up" is to further separate curd from whey/liquid. IMPORTANT: DO NOT BOIL THE MIXTURE. As you warm it up, the curd will start rising and further get separated from whey/liquid part. Once you see that the mixture is about to boil, remove it from the stove.
3) Dripping: the tricky part.
3.1 Take a large piece of gauze and fold it two or three times. Take a colander, put the gauze on top of it so that once you pour the mixture into it, the curd will stay in a sack formed by the gauze.
3.2 Accurately pour the mixture into the gauze/colander. The objective is to keep the curd and dispose of whey/liquid.
3.3 Once done, let the curd drip for a few hours. That is it. One gallon of milk usually makes 1 lb or more of tvorog. Cover & store in refrigerator; OPTIONAL: At time of serving you may sweeten with sugar, brown sugar, honey or flavored syrups, to taste. You may also add fresh berries to Tvorog at time of serving.
MonroemdRecipe category: Appetizers > Other