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The Monday Mozzarella Experiment

March 27, 2012

Monday- Mozzarella Day!

Today is the day-I decided to try my hand at making mozzarella. Cheese making is always an experiment..but it was super simple, actually. AND now I have some great, homemade mozzarella to go with my sourdough pizza dough. Or just to eat….

For Christmas, my mom got me Ricki’s 30min Mozzarella and Ricotta Kit. Its a great kit, with step by step instructions and all the supplies you need (except the milk). It was pretty spot on with the time frame..I think the process took me about 45min. Awesome. The result? A boost in kitchen confidence and a really scrumptious hunk of mozzarella cheese (ahem, I believe the correct term might be log). Though I spent the entire process completely faithless in the milk’s ability to actually turn to the stringy, taffy like, finished product the recipe described, it happened! Like magic. Magic cheese that is.

^citric acid, cheese salt, rennet tablets, and the cheese!

The kit was great. Super excellent step by step instructions and some photos, if you feel like you might want them, I’d highly recommend purchasing it (by clicking here)!

Mozzarella Cheese:

1/2 gallon milk (pasteurized, NOT ultra-pasteurized)

3/4 cup cool water

1/8 rennet tablet (or 1/8 tsp liquid rennet)

3/4  tsp citric acid

1/2 tsp cheese salt or other spices (optional..but tasty!)

Tools:

Large stainless steel pot

Slotted Wooden Spoon

Thermometer

Large pot for water bath (see below)

Colander

Directions:

Step 1-Making the Curds:

Dissolve 1/8 tablet of rennet (or 1/8tsp if you have liquid rennet) in 1/8 cup cold water and set aside. Dissolve 3/4 tsp citric acid in 1/2 cup of water and pour into a large pot. Add 1/2 gallon of milk to the pot, stirring vigorously. Heat the milk/acid to 90F. Remove from heat, stir in rennet (for about 30seconds), cover and let sit 5-8min. The consistency should resemble custard, with clear whey separated out. With a long sharp knife, cut the curds into a checkerboard pattern. Place pot over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches 110F. Turn heat off and continue to stir for a minute or two.

(apparently, at this point you can refrigerate or freeze the curds and work with them later)

^curds and whey beginning to separate after 5 minutes after the rennet was added.

^cutting the curds!

^stirring/reheating curds to 110

step 2-Water Bath:

Heat a large pot of water (large enough that a colander can fit down just inside it) to 185F. Meanwhile, ladle the curds into the colander and wait for some of the whey to drain off (I saved most of my whey..because there is a LOT). When water reaches 185, remove from heat and sit colander full of curds into pot. Using a wooden spoon, fold the curds together in the colander. Lift the colander and sit it back in the pot a few times to allow the curds to cool a little bit. In a few minutes, the curds come together in a stretchy mass, this happens when the temperature has cooled to around 135F. You can add 1tsp cheese salt or spices now, if you want. Pick it up with your hands and stretch it like taffy for a minute or two before shaping into a ball or log and storing in saran wrap. Voila!

^stirring the very tiny stringy curds in the water bath (I was super skeptical at this point)

^and then…magic started to happen and they all stuck together in one big blob!

^stretching the taffy-like mozzarella just before shaping it into the log.

I should note here that I only made a 1/2 batch (the kit called for 1 gallon of milk and double of everything else) but it worked out fantastically! The one thing I have learned through my cheese making ventures is that its takes a lot of milk to make a little cheese. I was slightly appalled by how much whey I had left over and I ended up with only a large-fist-sized piece of mozzarella. Yes, that’s a real cheese measurement..large-fist-sized. And don’t get me wrong-it’s plenty of cheese for a couple of pizzas, and spending $1.29 on a 1/2 gallon of milk is cheaper than spending $6-7 on the same amount of mozz. It was just….surprising. SO, I saved the waste whey! I immediately made some loaves of Italian Feather Bread (also in Ricki’s recipe book, because clearly she is worried about the amount of whey we waste too) and then I stored the rest in the fridge. I’m currently researching alternate uses. My last resort is to freeze it.

For now, I’ll leave you with this somewhat lengthy post and much encouragement to try it on your own.

Lets eat cheese!

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