Monday, April 13, 2009

DIY Cheese: Mozzarella

A while back my brother gave me a cheesemaking kit from Ricki the Cheese Queen of the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company in Massachusetts. It's a beginner set for mozzarella and ricotta since those are the most basic of cheeses to make at home. I finally made my first attempt on Saturday. I set up everything on the counter, like so:

First step: mix citric acid into one gallon of milk and slowly heat to 90 degrees while stirring. Then remove pot from burner and stir in rennet solution (to make in coagulate). Let sit for five minutes while it sets. The curd begins to separate and form into a custard-like consistency. You then cut this into cubes inside the pot and reheat while stirring slowly.

The curd breaks down again at this point, which made me nervous, but this is supposed to happen.
You reheat the pot to 185 degrees and then ladle thecurds into a colander and strain out as much of the whey as possible. You then put curds back into a pot of hot water and let them heat up for stretching.

Once they become a bit elastic from the heat, you pull them out of the water and stretch them. It is very hot, and the kit suggested wearing rubber gloves, but who has those lying around?! I put on some plastic bags and stretched away. This part was really fun and while Sam was trying to capture the process, I think I stretched it for too long. It made the end result a little tough. While you are doing this, you are supposed to mix in the cheese salt. I forgot until well into stretching, so again, kept stretching more. Oops!

You then form it into whatever shape you want — I went for the straight up traditional ball o' cheese — and plunge it into ice water to set it into that shape.

The cheese did in fact look like real mozzarella, but really it was a little tough and dry and definitely needed more salt. I think next time I will try to mix in some herbs, too. Not a great result, but it was only a first attempt and it was fun enough to try again!

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