May 25, 2009

Mozzarella Cheese

I recently tried, for the first time, to make mozzarella cheese. I used the recipe in Mary Jane Toth's Goats Produce Too!, page 57.

1 gallon milk
1 1/4 tsp citric acid powder
1/4 tsp liquid rennet
1/2 cup cool water, divided

Dissolve citric acid powder in 1/4 cup cool water and add to the milk. Stir well. Bring the temperature of the milk to 88*. Mix the rennet with the other 1/4 cup of cool water and stir into the milk for about 10 seconds.

Allow the milk to set at 88* for 15 minutes to coagulate. The curd should be firm and when you dip your finger into the curds they will break cleanly over your finger and whey will fill the depression where your finger has been.

Cut into 1-inch cubes and let rest for 10 minutes.

Then place the pot of curds into a sink of very hot water and slowly bring the temperature up to 108*. Curds will shrink during this process. Keep the curds at 108* for 35 minutes.

Drain the curds in cheesecloth (I used muslin) for 15 minutes. When the curds are drained, they are ready to be heat treated to get their stretch.

At this point, there are two or three methods to heat treat the curds. I divided the curds into two parts and tried the "fool proof microwave method" - which failed - and "hot water method." In this method, you are supposed to knead the cheese in hot water, like pulling taffy. I've only pulled taffy once in my entire life, about 33 years ago, so I don't really remember what to do, but I tried my best. I think I was moderately successful.

The result: about half a pound of mozzarella cheese. If I'd used the entire bowl of curds this way, I'd have made about a pound. Now I know why mozzarella is more expensive than other cheeses: it takes a lot of milk to make a pound of cheese!

My thought after this first attempt: not much result for a lot of milk and a lot of work! I'll keep trying though; hopefully it will get easier and the results will be more pleasing. When I first began making pizza crust from scratch I was frustrated over and over again... but now it is easy. When I first began making tortillas from scratch, I was frustrated over and over again... and while I'm not perfect at this, it IS easier now. I assume that making mozzarella will be the same way: practice, practice, practice!

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