January 31, 2013

Say Cheese!

I didn't realize making mozzarella cheese was so easy....if I would have known that I would have done it a while ago! I spent just a small amount of time on Sunday making a pound of fresh mozzarella. I am so thrilled to be able to say that my little experiment was a success!

You will need:
1 gallon of milk (make sure it is not ultra-pasteurized)
1/3 tsp rennet (I used liquid vegetable rennet that I bought on amazon.com)
1 1/2 tsp citric acid

It still amazes me that just three ingredients make mozzarella cheese.

First, ice the bottom of a large heavy pot. This means stick an ice cube in it and let it melt. Dont ask me why you do this, I dont really know.

gently heating the milk and citric acid
Pour the gallon of milk into the pot. In a measuring cup, dissolve the citric acid into 1 cup of water. pour slowly into the milk, stirring constantly. Attach a thermometer to the side of your pot, set it to medium, and walk away for a few minutes. While you are waiting, mix the rennet with 1/4 cup of water and set aside.

When the thermometer reads 90 degrees f, remove  from heat and stir in the rennet mixture. Stir constantly for 30 seconds. The milk will begin to separate, don't freak out. Put a lid on the pot, and walk away.
cut the cheese!

After 6-7 minutes, take the lid off of the pot. There should be a solid mass of curd floating on the top. With a sharp knife, cut the curd into cubes. They will float in the whey (yellowish liquid). Reurn the pot to the burner, and over med-hi heat, heat the curds to 110 degrees.

remove the curds, set aside
With a slotted spoon, remove the curds and put them into a strainer. Add 3 TBS of salt to the whey. Heat the whey over high heat to 210 degrees. You will notice the curds already taking shape in the strainer..
heat the remaining whey

Be careful with the next step, as you can burn yourself. I cut the curds into two chunks. With the chunk of solid curd, I dip it into the hot whey for about 30 seconds. Pull it out, and knead it like you would bread. This forces any air pockets or remaining whey out of the cheese. Continue to dip into the whey, stretching and kneading the cheese  until it is smooth and shiny. Repeat with the other chunk of curd.
knead, baby, knead!

Congrats, you now have a pound of mozzarella cheese! Woop, woop!

To store, let the cheese rest for 5 minutes, then put into a container with cold tap water, covering the cheese. Allow this to sit for about 10 minutes, then drain off the water and store in an airtight container. Or, you can allow the whey to cool, add an additional 3 TBS of salt, and pour cool whey over the ball of cheese, like a brine. Eat cheese within 5 days (trust me, its not hard to do). This cheese tastes best after about a day of sitting. 

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