Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fresh Mozzarella

One thing I've tried and not succeeded at is making fresh mozzarella.  Mozzarella is one of those awesome cheeses you can make at home if you don't mind a little work.  Actually, it's simple-stupid if you have a kit.  Cheesemaking.com has a really good kit that gives you practically everything you need to make cheese.  I bought the kit at a local organic store.

The simple way to make cheese is to use one gallon of whole milk.  Don't use ultra-pasteurized milk, 2% milk or skim milk, although pasteurized milk works fine.  Ultra-pasteurized milk won't form curds.

You use rennet, preferably in a tablet, but you can use liquid rennet too.  You need cheesemaking citric acid, which I've been told is different than other types of citric acid.  I tried the regular citric acid from the organic foods store and it doesn't work.  That was my first failed attempt at cheesemaking,  So, there you go.

You mix 1 1/2 tsp of citric acid into 1 cup of cold water.  You also mix the appropriate amount of rennet in a 1/4 cup of water.  Put the citric acid mix in a pot and pour the gallon of whole milk in.  Heat to 90F and stir vigorously.

You remove the milk from your heat source and slowly stir in the rennet for about 30 seconds.  Don't overstir like I did.  That was my second failure, but I ended up making ricotta cheese out of the failed attempt.  It was pretty tasty.

You then cover the pot and leave for 5 minutes or so.  The curd forms on top and the whey sinks below.  Seems odd, but that's how it is.  After 5 minutes, you need to cut the curd and heat the whole thing to 105F while slowly stirring.  The curd looks like cottage cheese if you've done it right and the whey is yellowish.

When the curds reach 105F, take it off the burner and continue stirring.  The longer you stir, the harder the cheese.

Now, at this point, I gave up trying to get the curds separated from the whey and put a cheesecloth into a colander and poured the mixture through.  I put a bowl under the colander to catch the whey.  I saved the whey for other recipes, such as liquid to use in bread. 

You then take the curds and put them in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave the curds for a minute, drain off the whey and add salt if you wish, and then microwave it again for 30 seconds or more.  You'll use your hands (gloved or clean) to pull and stretch the cheese out.  They said in the recipe it's just like pulling taffy and the longer you work it, the firmer the cheese.  I rolled my cheese into a log and cut pieces off of it.

OMG.  Heaven!  It's awesome.  My husband tried it and said "it's mozzarella."  So, that is great.  I put the whey in three one-quart containers and froze them for later use.

Now I know what I'll be doing with all that goat's milk when my girls finally start producing.  Mmmm, good!


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