Monday, March 1, 2010

adventures in cheese making: mozzarella

I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about 2 years ago, and in the book Barbara Kingsolver discusses making cheese at home. Never before had it occurred to me that was possible. Not only did she say it was possible, but she said it wasn't hard. What? How? Really?

For two years I've wanted to order the 30 minute mozzarella kit from New England Cheese Supply. The cost isn't obscene. 60 dollars, but it was enough for me to look at it, and then not buy it several times a year.

A few weeks ago, I finally did. This past weekend was Round One in Adventures in Cheese making:

I followed the 30 minute mozzarella recipe

I've had a killer head cold all weekend and can barely taste a thing so I can't fairly report on taste, but my youngest (my oldest wasn't home this weekend) had several helpings of the pizza we made with it. He loved it.

First, find some local milk. Or at least some milk that is NOT ultra pasteurized. It won't work. For those locally, Wegmans organic milk is not ultra pasteurized. The only people selling milk at the market now are the Fingerlakes Farm people. In the spring and summer, I'll probably try it using milk from Wake Robin Farm - if you're on facebook check out their fan page. How could I not want to buy from this farm?!

Anyway. So you've got the milk.

And if you bought the 30 minute mozzarella kit, you also have everything else you need to make cheese. Oh, except a stainless steel pot. Get yourself one of those. I used Kevins giant beer stainless pot. It's huge but worked fine.

Dissolve 1/4 tab rennet into 1/4 cup cool water, set aside.

Dissolve 1.5 tsp citric acid into 1 cup cool water and add to the milk in your stainless steel pot. Heat your milk while stirring to 90 degrees using a dairy thermometer (its included in the kit).

Remove the pot from the burner and add the dissolved rennet. Cover with a lid and let sit for 5 minutes. Check the curd, it should be starting to firm/set and will be the texture of custard. If it's not ready, let sit another 5-10 minutes. I let mine go another 6-7 minutes. When curd is set and separate from whey, cut into small cubes.

Place the pot back on stove and heat to 105, stirring slowly. This will only take a minute or two. Take off the burner and continue stirring slowly until cheese begins to firm and connect. About 2-5 minutes.

Here, I dumped the whey through a cheesecloth in a colander over a bowl. The website shows taking the curds out with a slotted spoon. Yeah, that makes more sense actually, so do that. Once the curd is separated from the whey (the leftover liquid) drain off the curd as best as you can without pushing into the curd, you don't want to dry it, just drain it.

You're going to have a ton of whey. I froze it for later use. I just have to find uses! I know you can use it in breads and it's supposedly good for a treat for kitties. I'll post some whey recipes at some point, I'm sure.

Microwave for about 1 minute, drain. Knead and reheat for about 30 seconds. Repeat until curd is 135 degrees (the temperature it needs to be to stretch properly).

Then stretch, stretch stretch. I probably should have stretched more, but it still formed nicely.

Now you can form it and make it pretty (mine is more deformed than pretty - I need practice!!) - then plunge in ice water to hold the shape and stop it from getting grainy.

Ta-da! You have mozzarella! Now eat it. Nom. Or wrap it in plastic wrap for up to two weeks. I wrapped ours to use on pizzas that night. I also found if I put it in the freezer for a few minutes, it shredded better for pizza.

I don't have pictures of the mozzarella. Ok, I do, but it looks like mozzarella crap. So here's a picture of it cooked up and melted on homemade pizza instead

I plan on sticking with mozzarella for several weeks, before moving on to some of the other tempting recipes in the book. I'll be keeping you updated!

Edited to fix all of the typos I spotted. I need to proof read more. I'm going to blame it on my cold, k?


Barefoot Goddess said...

Mike and/or I would be happy to come out one night to teach you to knead, form, and wrap your mozzarella- we used to make it at wegmans from the curd state. It's kind of tricky and works best if someone shows you, it's hard to learn from photos or descriptions. I used to love love love making mozzarella...and I love forming the balls, i actually use the same concept when I make boule bread :)

Jodi said...

OH YUM! I've been wanting to make this ever since I saw it in Mother Earth News nearly 2 years ago. A kit, you say? Maybe I should request one of those for my birthday..... *sending link to my husband*


Sara said...

Awesome! And I blinked at seeing my handwriting on that jar. LOL I would love to try this. I bet it would make an amazing lasagna.

Brie said...

Do you know what it is that makes it the taste of the mozzarella?

gardenofsimple said...

Brie, I don't know. Maybe the amount of time it ages (none) it has a mild, milky flavor - where other cheeses have a sharper taste because of aging?

Brie said...

I bet it would be good with some roasted red peppers, olive oil and basil on some pressed bread, yummm I just made myself hungry.

gardenofsimple said...

haha - that does sound good! I'm anxious to give it another shot this week, hoping this head cold clears up!