January 24, 2014

Cheesemaking 101 - Mozzerella

Here's a post off the beaten path as this most definitely is not soup.  However it is fairly easy yet something that will make you feel accomplished in the end - much like soup.  DP and I hosted a classical music listening night at our house and picked Mozart for our first gathering.  When deciding upon snacks there were many puns including Mozart-ella sticks, Wolfgang Puck Amadeus pizza, Don Juan almonds and the like.  I saw the shining star as clearly being Mozart-ella so I took the opportunity to teach myself how to make this easy cheese.  It turned out really good despite my worry throughout the process that it wouldn't come together.  But come together it did and served with fresh basil and garlic, our best olive oil (from here), balsamic, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and it was a party hit.  It turns out that the adage used when making beer applies to making cheese as well - don't worry, have a homebrew cheeseball.

Even though this recipe might require a stop at a home brewing store the two off the wall supplies needed, rennet and citric acid, are cheap and easy to find.  Also you use so little of each ingredient in each batch that I'll be able to stretch the amounts I purchased for many more cheese making adventures.  Up next, goat cheese...or maybe feta!  A little aside about the whey too; I read from the recipe that the leftover whey can be used in place of water in any bread recipe for an enhanced flavor so I saved mine and will be whipping up a fresh batch of bread this weekend.  Cheese making yields many treats my friends.

Homemade Mozzerella
recipe from The Pioneer Woman

1 gallon of whole milk - preferably raw and unpasteurized if you can find it (I couldn't)
1 1/2 teaspoons of citric acid powder
1/4 teaspoon vegetable rennet
kosher salt to taste

Sprinkle the citric acid powder into a large non-reactive stockpot then add 1/4 cup of water and swirl to dissolve.  Pour the gallon of milk into the pot and stir to combine.  Put the pot over medium-low heat and attach a thermometer to the side of the pot and allow to heat to 90 degrees F.  You may notice a little curdling but this is a good thing.  While that heats up combine the vegetable rennet with 1 cup of water.

When the milk comes to temp remove from the burner and add the rennet/water mixture.  Very gently stir together for about 30 seconds.  Place a lid on the pot and walk leave it alone for exactly 5 minutes - don't touch it in the meantime! After 5 minutes the mixture should resemble a very soft custard.  A note on this - mine looked more like large curds and didn't congeal as much as the recipe pictures looked.  I think this is because I didn't use raw milk so if you don't either and it just looks like a bunch of large curds, don't worry it will still come together.  Return to the burner over medium heat and place the thermometer on once again and bring up to 105 degrees F.

Remove from heat and with a slotted spoon remove all of the curds from the whey (the watery looking part) and place in a colander.  Press down with a spoon or your clean hands to remove as much of the whey from the curds as possible. Place in a microwaveable bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute.  Without burning your hand press on the cheese to drain all of the whey off.  Microwave for 30 seconds a few more times to keep removing as much of the watery whey as possible.  I only did this two times total.  Then knead in salt to taste.  Stretch out the cheese curd to get any more whey that you can out of it.  Shape into a ball and place in a bowl of ice water until completely cool.  Afterwards eat as is or add herbs, seasonings and serve with a crusty baguette as we did.

The final product before it was devoured:

Video of the making:

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