Saturday, August 18, 2012

Homemade Mozzarella

I'm not sure if you know this, but cheese is awesome.  Can you imagine a world without cheese?  Whoa, now, don't actually imagine the world without cheese.  Sounds nightmarish.

Cheesemaking is an art beyond most of our means and capabilities, mine included.  But mozzarella is the one type of cheese that  just about any body who knows their way around a kitchen can make.  It can also be more cost effective for those who use it on a regular basis.  You can make one batch of homemade mozzarella for about $5; to buy the same amount in the store you'd have to shell out $10-15.

I have included both an ingredient and hardware list for this recipe.  This one takes quite a few instruments, so be sure to read through this a few times and gather supplies before you start.  Some ingredients, such as the citric acid and rennet, may be hard to come by in your area.  Try the local health food store, but I ended up ordering online.

You will need:

1 gallon whole milk
1 ½ tsp citric acid
¼ tsp rennet
1 tsp salt

Large pot with lid – enough for 1 gallon plus a few inches to allow for stirring
Cooking thermometer
Slotted spoon
Long knife
Colander or strainer with a fine mesh (preferred) or cheesecloth
Microwave safe bowl
Large bowl filled with ice water

Start by dissolving the citric acid and rennet.  In ½ cup cool water, dissolve citric acid.  In ¼ cup water, dissolve the rennet.  Stir to make sure to make sure all particles are evenly distributed.

Pictured: not a homogeneous solution.  Keep stirring. 

Pour milk into the large pot.  With the slotted spoon, slowly stir in dissolved citric acid.  Over a low-medium heat, slowly heat the milk to 90 F.  Remove from heat and gently stir in dissolved rennet for about 30 seconds.   Put on lid and let sit for at least 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, check on the curd.  The curds should have separated from the whey, with the curd forming on top into a thick custard consistency and the whey settling underneath in the form of a clear, yellowish liquid.   If the curd is more like watery cottage cheese, let it sit a little longer. 

The curd will break up once you start stirring.

Using a long knife, cut the curd into 1 inch chunks, forming a grid.  Over a low-medium heat, slowly stir the curd with the slotted spoon.   Heat to 105 F, remove from heat, and slowly stir for another 5 minutes.

At this point, your friend's Garfield-esque cat will wander into the kitchen.  Don't worry; he just wants attention.  Give him some and then shoo him away from the kitchen so you don't accidentally step on him in the following steps.

 I just want loves!  And maybe some lasagna.

Drain curds and whey into the fine meshed colander or colander lined with cheesecloth.  Remove as much of the liquid whey as possible.  A fine meshed colander is preferred over the cheesecloth as less curd will be lost in the draining process.

It's going to smell a little...funky.

In a microwave safe bowl, heat the curds for 1 minute on high.  Drain off the whey again as more will form.  Knead in salt.  Heat the curd again for 30 seconds.  Drain any more fluid.

Turn out onto a flat surface and knead.  The curd will be hot at first, so start with caution.  Knead until stretchy and shiny. 

Form into desired shape (large ball or log, smaller balls, etc.).  Place into ice water for at least 30 minutes.  This helps the mozzarella keep its shape and shiny look.  Let dry and wrap in cling film.  Keep refrigerated.  Should stay good for about two weeks.

This batch came out a little lumpy, but was still delicious. 

This mozzarella is excellent in salads, on pizza, or as part of a snack.  It does not shred very well, so keep that in mind.  You can also add other ingredients, such as basil or minced garlic, to make it more flavorful.  If you want to try this, add some along with the salt.

- The Pink One

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