Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

Of all the things Ben and I made on Saturday, the most fascinating one to make was the homemade mozzarella cheese. A few months ago, I saw a friend and her husband post pictures of their cheese-making adventures on Facebook. It had never even occurred to me that you can make your own mozzarella cheese, but I set out to see how it's done!

It turns out you really need to purchase a kit in order to make mozzarella or ricotta. These kits comes with citric acid tablets and rennet powder.

Rennet:
  1. Curdled milk from the stomach of an unweaned calf, containing rennin and used in curdling milk for cheese.


Sounded gross, but luckily this comes in powder form! We purchased Ricki's Cheesemaking Kit from amazon.com for $24.95. This kit makes THIRTY POUNDS of mozzarella!!

Ingredients for one pound: 
1 gallon milk
1 1/2 cup cool water
1 1/2 tsp. citric acid
1/4 rennet tablet
1 tsp. cheese salt


We decided to make two pounds of cheese. One pound we made with the recommended whole milk. The other pound we made with 1% milk, just to try. It ended up coming out great!
Whole Milk on the left, 1% Milk on the right
Directions: 
1. Dissolve 1/4 rennet tablet into 1/4 cup of cool, chlorine-free water. Stir and set aside. Wrap the remaining pieces of tablet in plastic wrap and store in the freezer.

2. Mix 1 1/2 tsp. citric acid into 1 cup cool, chlorine-free water until dissolved. Pour into your pot.

3. Pour 1 gallon of milk into your pot and stir vigorously.

4. Heat the milk to 90 degrees F while stirring.

5. Remove the pot from the burner and slowly stir in the rennet solution with an up and down motion for approximately 30 seconds.

6. Cover the pot and leave it undisturbed for 5 minutes.

7. Check the curd. It should look like custard, with a clear separation between the curd and the whey. If the curd is too soft or the whey is milky, let set for a few more minutes.


8. Cut the curd with a knife that reaches to the bottom of the pot.

9. Place the pot back on the stove and heat to 105 degrees F while slowly moving the curds around with your spoon.

10. Take off the burner and continue slowly stirring for 2-5 minutes.

11. Pour off the floating whey. (We saved the leftover whey from the milk to use for cooking pasta, rice or beans in the coming week.)

12. Ladle your curds into a large microwaveable bowl and drain off as much of the whey as you can without pressing the curds too much. We did the next steps by following the "microwave method" instead of the "waterbath method." Both work just fine.
13. Place the bowl in the microwave for 1 minute

14. Remove and drain off the whey as you gently fold the curds into one piece. Add 1 tsp. salt

15. Microwave for another 30 seconds. Drain again and stretch the curd. It must be 135 degrees F to stretch properly. If it isn't hot enough, microwave for another 30 seconds.

16. Stretch the cheese by pulling like taffy until it is smooth and shiny. The more you work the cheese the firmer it will be.

17. Now form your cheese into a log or ball or braid it. When finished, submerge it in 50 degree F water to cool for 5 minutes and then in ice water for 15 minutes. This will cool it down and allow the cheese to hold its shape. This step is critical as it protects the silky texture and keeps it from becoming grainy.We twisted ours and rolled it into a ball.


The cheese pictures above is from the 1% milk. Even though we did these side by side, something happened with the whole milk cheese. It was really runny and a lot of the whey wouldn't separate from the cheese.

What resulted was an amazing spreadable mozzarella (the consistency of ricotta cheese). This most likely happened because we stirred a little too long after adding the rennet. Though it's not exactly how it should be, it still tasted amazing and we enjoyed this spread onto some homemade crusty bread. Sheer Perfection, and a happy accident!

It really was very easy to follow the directions and all in all, pretty quick! If you're really interested in making your own cheese, I definitely recommend this kit (or any of the many others out there that I'm sure are good) and give it a try! It's as much a chemistry lesson as it is a cooking lesson!

4 comments:

  1. I may have to buy a kit for my Husband. He loves stuff like this and I LOVE cheese, so it is a win win. I am glad that yours turned out great. It looks yummy!

    ReplyDelete
  2. So cool! It seems a little daunting making sure everything is at the right temps, but it looks like it turned out deliciously! I will so have to try this sometime :) Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. wow this looks great and a fun date idea!!! My husband would love this!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I actualy read this post yesterday after school with one of my students. I told him, "ALL COOKING IS CHEMISTRY IN THE KITCHEN!!" You just have taken it so for granted you don't realize it. This looks like such fun though and I may have to try it with some of my students. But it begs the question-who was the first person to get rennet from an unweaned calf? Who would think to do that? Maybe a chemist! Lol!

    ReplyDelete

Please leave me some lovin' and thanks for stopping by!