The cheese culture in the Philippines is a funny thing. Ask a Filipino on the street to name the first cheese that comes to mind and it would probably be Eden. Or Chiz Whiz. Or a similar cheese product. But amid the salty, malinamnam, non-cheese cheeses of our childhood, one cheese stands out: it is proudly Filipino and proudly different from the rest. It is kesong puti

Translated as white cheese,kesong puti is traditionally made using the milk of the carabao, the countrys national animal. Smooth and squashy to touch, this stark white cheese is similar to mozzarella or burrata. Varying salt content, however, can change its texture from downy to crumbly. Distinctly, it is salty, but that, too depends on the cheesemaker. Thanks to the vinegar used in the process, it also leaves a slight tart finish on the tongue. Its fatty and protein-rich, which is probably why it tastes so good.

Making kesong puti is simple enough to do at home, though larger manufacturers undoubtedly have a more refined production. Heat a mixture of carabao milk and salt in a double boiler for 15 minutes. Then, take it off the heat and add in some vinegar (rennet or other citrus juices may serve as either an additional ingredient or an alternative). Wait for the curds to form. After an hour or so, strain the excess liquid. You can use the curds as is, but for a more structured cheese, try to squeeze out more of the whey until you feel it becoming more solid. Shape it using plastic wrap or banana leaves. 

Kesong puti doesnt have a long shelf life. Under the local climate, its ideal to refrigerate it until its to be consumed. But then again, no ones going to want to wait that long to eat it.

Ready to get your hands on this delicious cheese? Here are some places to get kesong puti:

Mama Jessies Kesong Puti 

An heirloom recipe that was too good not to share, Mama Jessie has been a bazaar and online darling since 2000, when it was first offered to the public. With a texture more reminiscent of mozzarella, each bite has marked hints of salt and tang. 

Hollys Farm

From the same milk farm that comes supplies award-winning ice cream Carmens Best, Hollys fresh white cheese is rich and creamy with subtle saltiness. 

Kesong Ps Premium Kesong Puti

Produced in a family-run farm in Bulacan, these banana-wrapped logs are juicy, plump, and wonderfully smooth, with just the right tinge of saltiness to work well on its own or as a grilled cheese sandwich. 

DVF Dairy Farm Kesong Puti 

DVF is notable for its six-month-long shelf life. The cheese itself is a dense crumble that has a creamy mouthfeel and a sharper note. 

Sweet Bulakenya Foods 

The flagship product is homemade, all-natural kesong puti, but owner Lani Buencamino has branched out to create a diverse range of kesong puti products, like keso-dilyo (quesadilla), kesong puti empanadas, kesong puti pimiento, and even kesong puti cream cheese!