You probably guess what we spent the afternoon doing the other day. When Joe and I got married I don’t think he had ever had real fresh mozzarella-only shredded bagged stuff. Nothing against the shredded stuff really because what else would we on pizza? But for something like a big hearty baked pasta needs a little extra special cheese. For Christmas this past year my mom got Joe his own make-your-own-mozzarella kit and we finally got around to doing it!
Frist we went to Coopers Farm Store in Leicester, Ma and bought a gallon of whole milk-NOT ULTRA PASTEURIZED. The store is a diary based right on the farm the milk comes from (we bought a quart of chocolate milk and I have to say…TruMoon will never be good enough again) Then Joe picked out his favorite Pyrex dishes to use…since this was his project, I didn’t impose which bowls he should use.
Start by preparing the rennet (enzyme) solution by dissolving 1/4 table of the rennet in 1/4 cup of cold water. Set aside
Pour the whole gallon of milk into a large stock pot. Heat over medium high heat/flame until the milk reaches 85 degrees then add the provided citric acid. Please keep in mind that these are the steps as given by the kit! I would have no idea how to do this from total scratch. That aside, when the milk reaches 100 degrees stir in the rennet solution. Use a slotted spoon to gently stir the milk in an up and down motion for 30 seconds.
Heat the milk to a little more to 105 then turn off the heat. You will start to notice signs of curds forming-these will be the white and shiny bits floating in the liquid. The liquid is now whey.
To test if the curds are ready to be strained-scoop out some of the curds and press the back of a spoon into them. If a dent is left, they’re ready. If not, give them another 2 minutes.
When they are ready you will want to set a colander inside of a microwave safe bowl then using a strainer or slotted spoon gently lift the curds and allow they whey to drip into the pot. Place the curds gently into the colander…I keep saying gently because they instructions do. The curds are sensitive little buggers..
Using your hands (again) gently press the curds to extract any extra whey.
They will look something like this once you’ve got them drained. Next, place your bowl in a microwave for one minute. Put on the gloves that came with the kit or your own special gloves if you’ve got them. When you remove the bowl from the microwave there will be more whey that has come loose from the curds-drain this. You can now begin to fold (gently) and knead the curds and as more whey is released just keep draining it.
Microwave for 30 seconds as needed to keep the curds folding properly. You will know you are nearing “done” by the shine and smoothness of your cheese.
Something like this! Now, remember this: to stretch the cheese must be at 135 degrees. If you have a smooth cheese but want to shape it into a ball there is no harm in popping it in the microwave for another 30 seconds.
So there you all have it! Joe made cheese! You can go ahead and think it…we have weird hobbies. But hey..how many people do you know who make their on cheese? Mom don’t answer…you’ve got enough farmer blogger friends who probably do it without a kit!