TV Season 12: Bayless' Best Ever Mexico City/

Mexican Fresh Cheese

Queso Fresco
Servings: 1pound


  • 1 gallon whole or 2 percent milk preferably from a small local dairy with grassfed cows: the richer the flavor, the better the cheese)
  • 2cups buttermilk
  • 1teaspoon citric acid (aka sour salt, available in the kosher section of well-stocked grocery stores)
  • 1teaspoon salt (pure fine-ground sea salt works best here)


Culture the milk.  Pour the milk into a large (at least 8-quart) pot—I typically use an 8-quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven or a stainless steel 12-quart stock pot.  Stir in the buttermilk, attach an accurate thermometer that registers temperatures as low as 75 degrees and set the pot over medium heat.  When the temperature reaches 75 degrees, turn off the heat, cover the pot and let stand 3 or 4 hours.

Set the curd.  If using citric acid, stir it into ¼ cup cool water, continuing to stir until dissolved.  Uncover the pot, set over medium heat and stir in the dissolved citric acid or the fresh lime juice. You will immediately see small curds start to form.  Every couple of minutes, stir slowly, gently and thoroughly over the entire bottom of the pot until the milk reaches 195˚F—it’ll take about 20 minutes.  At this point the curds will very obviously be floating in the milky-transparent whey.  Remove from the heat and let stand 5 minutes without stirring for all the curd  to rise to the top.

Drain the curd from the whey.  Wet a large piece of cheesecloth and drape it into a large colander. Set the colander in the sink.  Using a large slotted spoon or a fine-mesh skimmer, carefully ladle all of the curd into the colander.  Gather the cheesecloth up around the curd and gently press with the back of a large spoon to expel a bit more whey. Unwrap the curd onto a plate, break it up and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt.  Work in the salt with a spoon or your fingers.

Finish the cheese.  Gather the cheese curds into a 1-inch-thick disk, transfer to a plate, cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

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