Back when I made my kitchen project list in January, I talked about how excited I was about trying homemade cheese. Well, Sunday afternoon I finally got around to picking up a cheese making kit for some mozzarella. I picked up my kit at Midwest Supplies. We went there for the first time a few weeks ago for The Hubs to pick up some beer brewing items. Their focus is definitely more around brewing and winemaking but they also have supplies for mead, hot sauce, coffee and of course cheese. The kit had all the basics I needed to get started, the only thing I had to supply myself was a gallon of whole milk and some chlorine free bottled water.
To get started I crushed up half a tablet of rennet into 1/4 cup of water and set it aside (the kit came with enough rennet to make 19 more batches after this!).
Next, I poured the full gallon of milk into our non-stick stock pot, sprinkled it with 2 tsp. of citric acid and put it on medium heat.
It started to curdle almost immediately, then all I had to do was wait for the temperature to reach 88 degrees.
You can sort of see the mini curds of milk forming on the thermometer.
With the milk at temperature, I added in the 1/4 cup and rennet into the curdled milk and gave it a quick stir.
The curds separated from the whey almost immediately. I’ll be honest, the way it looked kind of grossed me out. Moving on.
I now had to wait for the temperature to reach 105 degrees, it kept separating forming larger curds as it warmed up.
Once it hit temperature, I used my new skimmer to pull all of the curds out of the whey into a glass bowl.
There was still quite a bit of whey in the bowl, so I did my best to pour off some of it from the bowl.
From there I popped it in the microwave for about a minute to keep separating the whey and make the curds more malleable.
I put the bowl back in for a couple rounds at 30 seconds each, working and separating the whey as I went. It started to look more and more like real mozzarella.
It reached a real stretchy, taffy like consistency, but it was still tearing a little bit at the edges. My instructions said if it was still tearing at this point to put it back in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, so I did.
I shouldn’t have. Instead of being pliable and shiny per the instructions it started to tear more and got rubbery.
At this point, I was ready to give up. I was cursing myself for not stopping earlier. Then The Hubs had a brilliant idea, pouring hot water over it. We’d seen mozzarella being made on TV a few weeks ago, they kept the stretchy cheese under water and shaped it that way. So we boiled a tea pot of water up and poured it over the rubberized cheese and I crossed my fingers. It worked!
With the cheese being workable again, we were able to split it out into two containers. One, just one large ball of cheese and the second, a few smaller balls.
We tried melting them over some pasta and marinara sauce for dinner tonight. It turned out ok, it was a little firm and didn’t melt very well but the taste was good overall. I think the process of re melting and then re working the cheese is was created the firmer texture.
I’m definitely going to keep working on perfecting mozzarella making. I want to learn more about what exactly the citric acid and the rennet are there for, but mostly I keep thinking how great it would be to whip up a batch of fresh cheese to eat with our fresh tomatoes and basil this summer.