How to make Akawi cheese
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Cheese is loved the world over. It is served as an appetiser, an ingredient in entrees and is an important feature in many desserts. Akawi cheese, also known as Akkawi cheese, is a brine cheese native to the historical region of Palestine in modern day Israel.
It is typically made from cow milk, but can also be made using goat or sheep milk. It is a soft, white cheese with a smooth texture and mild, slightly salty, taste. Akawi cheese is served with fruit, alone as a table cheese, fried or as an ingredient in desserts.
Fill the bottom section of the double boiler with water. Fill the top of the double boiler with 3.750 litres (1-gallon) of milk. Add 2-teaspoons of salt and two rennet capsules to the milk. Bring to a boil, following the rennet manufacturer's instructions. Rennet is a complex of enzymes that aids in the curdling of the milk.
Strain the curdled milk, using a kitchen strainer. This separates the liquid, known as whey, from the curds. Lay the curds on a section of cheesecloth. Wrap the curds and tightly squeeze, over the kitchen sink, releasing as much remaining moisture as possible,
Remove the curds from the cheesecloth. Gather the curds together and form a ball. Set the ball in a glass or Pyrex container. Cover with a layer of cheesecloth. Put the covered bowl in a cool spot, away from light, for two weeks. An ideal temperature is 7 to 10 degrees C (45 to 50 degrees F). This begins the ageing process.
Bring the container of cheese into the kitchen after the two-week period. Create a brine by adding 450g (one pound) of salt to 1.9 litres (1/2-gallon) of room temperature water. Stir or shake the solution to thoroughly mix. Generously wipe the surface of the ageing cheese with the brine, using a piece of cheesecloth. Cover and replace the cheese in its ageing spot for another two weeks.
Repeat this process every two weeks for a total of eight weeks. For a sharper taste, repeat this process for up to an additional four weeks beyond the eight-week ageing period.
- "The New Book of Middle Eastern Food"; Claudia Roden; 2000
- "Cheesemaking Made Easy"; Ricki and Robert Carroll; 1985
- "A Book of Middle Eastern Food"; Claudia Roden; 1968
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- Rennet tablets are available at large grocery outlets and online.
- Salt slows down or stops the bacteria cultures in the cheese, producing the ideal amount of acid for proper curd ripening. It also pulls the moisture from the cheese surface, contributing to the formation of the rind. Salt also adds to the cheese's flavour and tends to inhibit mould growth.
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