Kesong puti or native white cheese is widely produced in Santa Cruz, Laguna, its town of origin. "Kesong puti is fresh, non-aged, white and soft cheese made from the milk of carabaos or water buffalos."
I have enjoyed eating kesong puti since I was a child. It is best served with hot pan de sal or toasted wheat bread to bring out its delicate taste and soft, creamy texture. When I eat kesong puti nowadays, I become nostalgic and my childhood memories come back. I remember Aling Linda who regularly delivers kesong puti to our house in Santa Cruz every Sunday afternoon. By Sunday evening, I eat the kesong puti with hot plain rice (although this is not the usual practice on how to eat kesong puti, this combination is very yummy!). Kesong puti is best served in the morning with hot pan de sal and coffee or hot chocolate.
The town of Santa Cruz is very proud of its main delicacy, the kesong puti, such that they hold a festival in its honor every month of March. This year (2010), the kesong puti festival is scheduled on March 15-19 at the Municipal Hall grounds. Although there were many vendors/producers of kesong puti at the festival, there was still a shortage in the supply because of the large volume of orders. We were lucky that we were able to buy the two remaining boxes of kesong puti that sells for PhP 60 for two small pieces or PhP 120 for two large pieces. Kesong puti was also available at the Anilag Festival that was held last March 8-14, 2010 at the Provincial Capitol grounds. On regular days, when there are no festivals, you can buy kesong puti in Santa Cruz, Laguna along Bgy. Bagumbayan where there are many households that produce kesong puti as a cottage industry.
If you want to make your own kesong puti, here is a recipe by the Dairy Training and Research Institute (DTRI), UPLB:
- 2 liters fresh milk (carabao, cow or goat’s)
- 2 tbsp DTRI coagulant/rennet extract*
- 2-3 tbsp heaping table salt
*Rennet is an extract prepared from a mixture of abomasum, glacial acetic acid, and salt. DTRI coagulant and rennet are available at the Dairy Training Research Institute at UP Los Baños, Laguna.
- kettle (casserole)
- perforated plastic tray
- cheesecloth (“katsa”)
- cheese wrappers (wax paper or banana leaves)
- kitchen thermometer (optional)
- 8 pieces cheese moulds (ex: open-end milk can)
- Carabao’s milk – about 6 blocks (approx. weight of 200 g each)
- Cow’s or goat’s milk – about 4 blocks (approx. weight of 200 g each)
- Dissolve the table salt into the milk.
- Filter the salted milk into a clean kettle.
- Heat the milk to about 72° C for 1-2 minutes (at this temperature, vapor or steam is seem rising from the surface).
- Immediately place the kettle of milk in a basin of cold or tap water and stir the milk until lukewarm (about 40 to 42° C).
- Add the coagulant and stir for one minute. Cover and leave the milk undisturbed for 20-25 minutes. After this period, the milk should be coagulated (custard-like or has a texture similar to “taho”).
- Cut the coagulated milk or coagulum across with the distance of one inch between cuts. Leave the cut coagulum undisturbed for 5-10 minutes.
- Arrange cheese mould in a perforated plastic tray lined with cheesecloth. The tray should rest on a basin.
- For carabao’s milk, scoop the cut coagulum (2-3 cm thick) into the cheese moulds.
- For cow’s or goat’s milk, [a] stir the coagulum slowly for 10-15 minutes (avoid shattering the coagulum into fine pieces). [b] Remove about a liter of the liquid (whey). [c] Pour or scoop the partly drained curd into the cheese moulds. The thickess of the coagulum inside the mould should be about 2.5-3.0 inches.
- Cover the moulds and drain the cheese for 3-5 hours at room temperature or 6-8 hours at refrigerated temperature.
- After the draining period, lift the moulds leaving the cheese behind then wrap each cheese cake with waxed paper or banana leaves.
- Soft or white cheese will remain acceptable within 2 days at room temperature and 5-7 days when stored in a refrigerator.
- Shelf-life of soft cheese or white cheese is longer if the amount of salt is doubled.
- The flavor and texture of the cheese are enhanced or improved 24 hours after its manufacture.
- If cheese becomes moldy within the predicted shelf-life period, do not discard, wash the surface of the cheese with water and it will still be acceptable.
Prepared by: (Contact the same for more information)
Dairy Training and Research Institute
Collge of Agriculture – UPLB, Laguna
Tel: (049) 536-3744, 536-3454
Fax: (049) 536-2205