Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cheese making

A friend from my knitting group and I got together last night to make mozzarella cheese. At the last spinning meeting, another lady brought her current issue of Hobby Farm Home magazine. One of the articles in there was for making 30 minute mozzarella using the microwave. Both of us had talked about making cheese before and that magazine article sealed it.

Making the cheese was amazingly simple! The most difficult thing about it was finding the rennet (I found it at our local natural food store) and the citric acid. Once Jane researched it, however, she realized that she had some citric acid already in her pantry. Did you know that citric acid also goes by the name Sour Salt? I did not!

1 gallon of milk on the stovetop

If my science classes in high school did things like making cheese or other cooking things, I think I would have been a lot more interested in science. Seeing the chemical change to the milk after we added the citric acid and then the rennet was simply astounding. It actually made cheese! (I'm still amazed by that as you can tell.) It only took a minute or two to start turning into curds and whey.

Curds separated from the whey

Apparently, we could also make ricotta from the whey. I think that is a project for the future. Neither of us were ready to make it right now. After you separated the curds and the whey (how Little Miss Muffet of us!), you microwave the curds for a couple of seconds. Then you knead the cheese like you would bread. This helps to smooth everything out and distribute the heat evenly.

Kneading the cheese

On the final microwave, you add your salt to taste and then form the cheese into whichever shape you want. This had to be done pretty quickly because the cheese gets harder to stretch when it cools. We both ended up making them into balls.

Cheese ball

Let me tell you, they didn't stay that way long. We immediately started cutting pieces off while it was still warm. I just can't believe it actually tasted like mozzarella. I know that shouldn't surprise me but it was so simple and had so few ingredients! I know what I'm going to be making a lot of in the future.

If you want some recipes that are similar to the one we did, try these links.

* 30 Minute Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Recipe
* Mozzarella Cheese Recipe from cheesemaking.com
* the recipe in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
* the recipe in Hobby Farm Home magazine (I really liked looking through this magazine)

**eta: corrections on book title

2 comments:

Janelle said...

Awesome. We had a mozzarella cheese making demo on campus once. It really is simple. The book is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (not Mineral) by Barbara Kingsolver. Elizabeth Gilbert will get you a whole different kettle of fish.

Tricia said...

We love that cheese! The kids love it and ask us to make it pretty often. It works best with the un-homogenized organic milk at Ross's. In other news, I just realized the Gretchen I've been hearing about this week is Knitting Gretchen, and am so sorry to hear the news. She is a very fun, caring, good person. I will miss seeing her. Life is not fair.