Traditional Kesong Puti recipe made with just whole milk, vinegar and calamansi. The soft curds are wrapped in banana leaves to add flavor and set the cheese.
Traditionally Kesong Puti is made with Carabao Milk. The Carabao is a native water buffalo in the Philippines and helps families tend their land. They act like a tractor to help tend the fields and also provide nourishment. Did you know that Carabao milk is more nutritious than cow’s milk? It has more fat and protein, yet lower in cholesterol. Oh and it also has less lactose than cow’s milk. Unfortunately it’s not available here, so in this recipe I used whole milk instead.
The beauty of this recipe is that you don’t need much just 4 ingredients and some waiting overnight to set the cheese.
Whole Milk – You need to use whole milk in this recipe to get really creamy curds. As you can see in this photo I happen to be using Kefir. I ordered whole milk, but this is what I got. It’s made with 100% whole milk, so I decided to try it and I did and it works! So just as long as the ingredients list is 100% whole milk, it’s okay to use.
Salt – Salt is used as a seasoning to just tweak the taste buds a little bit.
Cane Vinegar – The main way the milk is turned into curds. The addition of the vinegar curdles the milk and separates the curds from the whey. Datu Puti is one of the best cane vinegars to use.
Calamansi – This also helps in curdling, and also adds a little flavor. If you don’t have access to calamansi, it can be replaced with lemon juice. You just don’t have that calamansi flavor.
Banana Leaves – The banana leaves does multiple things in this recipe. It is used as a mold and container, as well as infusing some flavor. The banana leaves also has natural wax that will keep this cheese fresh for up to a week. This is a must and you just can’t skip.
It’s my first time making this, and I have to say it’s so so easy. It’s so easy that I might be making Kesong Puti on a weekly basis.
The first part of the process is heating up the milk. The key is to bring it up to a simmer over low heat. To do that pour the milk and salt in a large sauce pan and put the heat to low. Don’t walk away far from the stove. The milk is ready when you start seeing tiny bubbles around the edges of the pan. Don’t get the milk to boil or you will have super rubbery curds.
Once the milk has heated up, turn off the heat and add in the vinegar and calamansi juice. Leave the milk to cool and you will see the curds start separating from the whey (milk juice)
When the milk has cooled and you see large cunks of curds start to drain it. Put a strainer over a bowl and line it with a clean cotton cloth. Leave for an hour to drip through, then fold over the cloth and start pressing out more of the whey. If you want it creamy, just use your hands to press through. If you want it for firm, place something heavy like a book on top of the cloth.
Now the cheese is ready to be set. The next step is too prep the banana leaves. Cut a banana leaf into a 12 x 12 inch square. Then using some tongs pass over the banana leave over an open flame over your stove to make it pliable. If you don’t have a flame stove boil some water and leave the leaves to soak for 5 minutes then wipe dry.
Spoon about 1/2 a cup of cheese into the middle of a banana leaf square and fold the sides over to make a small square packet. Tie with some banana leaf strings. Repeat this process until you use up all the cheese and then place the packets in the refrigerator overnight. Now it’s offically Kesong Puti once it is all wrapped up in banana leaves! Yay!
Don’t throw away the whey (milk juice). It’s very good for you and has lots of flavor. You can use it in soup as stock or even in bread as the liquid replacing water. If you are not sure when you are going to use it, I would pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze and defrost when needed.
Opening a packet of Kesong Puti, is like opening a present. You just can’t wait to unfold those banana leaves to see what it looks like.
We had the Kesong Puti with just some bread and a little bit of salt sprinkled on top. It’s great to use as a topping for Bibingka or even some creamy cheese in pasta. Traditionally, it’s great with a super hot and fresh pandesal.
If you don’t finish the cheese, you can just wrap it back up and put it in the fridge. If you want to be a little fancy, you can transfer the cheese into a container, but not necessary.
I have now made this 3-4 times and depending on the milk I used the curdling differs. The best result I did get was from using Raw milk. It’s as close to getting Karabaw milk and makes the softest curds.
Using regular pasteurized whole milk can also be used. However I did find more difficulty in getting the milk to curdle. If this happens to you and you already poured it through the cloth you can save the curds you have already, but pour back in the milk in the pot and heat it up again.
Once you see the bubbles around the sides leave the heat on but very low. Add in a tsp of vinegar and see if you get more curdling. If not add another tsp and then turn off the heat. Don’t stir and leave it too cool for an hour or more to set.
Strain and save the whey and mold the curds in the banana leaves. If you still have issues please DM me on Instagram or send me an email at [email protected] We can do this!!
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