"" What's She Eating Now?: Cheesemaking 101

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cheesemaking 101

You can do it with your significant other. You can do it with friends. You can even do it by yourself. I am speaking of the racy activity of making cheese at home. Whipping up some tasty mozzarella is easier than you think, and fun! You can either start with cheese curd if you can get it or really make it from scratch by beginning with with milk and making the curd yourself. All you'll need to do this is some citric acid, rennet and salt which you can either buy separately or in one of these very handy cheese making kits available online or in stores such as Murray's Cheese. You can string it out and make a night of it or whiz through the process in 30 minutes, it's up to you!

Here are some basic directions and a link to great pictures of the whole process which also has a more detailed how-to if you need it:
  1. Put 1 gallon of milk on a pot on the stove (raw, un-homogenized cow's milk is best)
  2. Dilute 1 1/2 tsp of citric acid in water then add to the milk, slowly heat to 88-90 degrees
  3. Once heated to 88-90 degrees, remove from burner, add 1/4 tab (or 1/4 tsp) of rennet diluted in 1/4 cup of water to the pot and stir in, cover and leave for about 5 minutes (check the curd, it should have the consistency of thick custard when ready for the next step)
  4. Using a long knife cut the curd into 1 inch squares
  5. Put pot back on the heat until it reaches 105 degrees, stirring slowly. Once at 105 take it off again
  6. Stir 2-5 minutes off the heat
  7. Using a slatted spoon begin removing spoonfuls of curd into a colander (this will separate the whey from the curd).
  8. The easiest thing to do here is, eek, actually use the microwave. Drain off the whey and put the curd in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 1 minute on high. Again, drain off the curd and heat this time for 30 seconds.
  9. Knead the curd with your hands until it starts to become one smooth mass. The curd should be as hot as possible that you can still touch (if not, zap it again, just remember to drain any excess whey off and then knead again)
  10. Now you're ready for the stretching! Like you are letting out a hose make a long flattish piece and keep letting more out until its all very stretchy. Feel free to add some salt at this point.
  11. When you're ready to make a ball, form a C with one hand and with the other, push the mozzarella up through the C (think of a long water balloon and to make a short round one you squeeze it up though your hand)
  12. Eat right away or store in a salty solution. Enjoy!

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