Mozzarella Adventures

November 17, 2009

The big excitement this past weekend (which is a bit of a sad commentary on my weekend but we’ll let that slide) was my first attempt at cheese making.  Since hooking myself up with a regular delivery of fresh milk, I’ve already experimented with separating cream from skim and with making my own yogurt and buttermilk.  The next step in the annals of dairy chemistry seems to be simple cheeses.  And since I’ve made panir in the past I decided to skip directly to cultured cheese.

The results were very satisfying.  Mozzarella is amazingly simple to concoct.  It seems to be much more a matter of having a few of the right ingredients on hand than skill (at least to get as far as a basic lump of cheese).  I’m sure that there is a lot of nuance possible and the right skills could vastly improve on the process but I found my amateur efforts well rewarded.  Its basically as easy as heating the milk up to specified temperatures, adding citric acid and then later vegetable rennet, cooling it down, pulling out the separated curds (from the whey) and then heating and kneading them until they turned, by some magical property, into fresh tasty mozzarella.

Then when I was done kneading and stretching the mozzarella and had set it up in a bowl of ice water I turned my attention to all the whey left over in the pot.  That I turned into small but tasty amount of ricotta by adding a bit of cider vinegar and re-heating, then draining it through cheese cloth.  This is very exciting because I like to make things (mostly filled pasta) that use ricotta but never enough to justify a whole tub of it from the grocery – they always go bad before I use them up … which is both frustrating and guilt inducing.  Making my own allows me to make just the right amount.  The whole process was very satisfying.  Its so much fun to make things from scratch.  I’m constantly grateful for my regular milk delivery because its really been keeping me on my toes figuring out new ways to use the milk and because its opened me up to all this fun experimentation.  I’ll be posting updates as I go.

*I forgot my camera at work (several days in a row) so this isn’t my picture.  Its taken from this website which also describes the details of how to make your own mozzarella.  I used the recipe for 30 minute Mozzarella in Ricki Carroll’s book Home Cheese Making but I bet this one works just as well.

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