Can I start by saying....I am not a cheese person.
I like cheese in things, like pizza or macaroni and cheese casserole. But I'm not the kind of person to just eat a slice of cheese.
In fact, you know how when you're grating cheese and you get down to that tiny piece that if you keep grating you'll grate your fingers? The piece that most people just pop in their mouth and eat? If nobody is around to eat it for me, um, well...
.... I just throw it away.
I know, I know. That's outrageous. Cheese lovers everywhere are unsubscribing from my blog right now. I'm sorry, I'm just not a cheese person.
So for me, making cheese with the kids is more a food science experiment than it is a culinary adventure. I've tasted the end product from our cheese making adventures, and it's good I suppose. It's very mild and slightly salty. But it is fun to make, and that's the real reason we do it.
To begin you will need:
- A gallon of milk. I'm Canadian, and we're weird here, so my milk is in bags. The milk can be pasteurized but it can't be "ultra-pasteurized" because that process affects the milk's ability to coagulate.
- Citric acid (Available at any well stocked grocery store)
- Rennet. Rennet is an enzyme found in the stomachs of mammals. (yuck, I know). It's causes the milk to coagulate. You can buy it online here. There are also vegetable rennets available for vegetarian cheese makers!
- Non-iodized salt (I used pickling salt)
- A great big pot
- A meat thermometer
- And some rubber gloves
Fill two small bowls or cups with 1/4 cup of cool water. To one bowl add 1 1/2 tsp citric acid and to the other add 1/4 tsp of liquid rennet.
Pour your milk into the giant pot and heat over medium heat until the milk measures 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This won't take long.
Add your citric acid mixture and gently stir. Continue to heat milk until it reaches 88 degrees. It will begin to thicken and separate and it won't look very yummy.
Pour in your rennet mixture and stir gently for thirty seconds. And then leave undisturbed until milk heats to about 100 to 105 degrees. The curds will separate from the whey and pull away from the edge of the pot. The whey will be a non-cloudy yellow Mountain-Dew-looking liquid. When this happens, turn off the heat.
Scoop or pour the curds into a fine mesh sieve and drain as much whey as you can. Reserve the whey in a large bowl or pot.
Return the whey to the pot and heat it over medium high heat to 175 degrees Fahrenheit. While the whey is heating, shape your curds into 6 balls.
(As an aside, if you like to soak your grains, nourishing traditions style, ladle out a mason jar full of whey before heating it back up and save it in your fridge to use in your soaked oatmeal and other soaked grain yummies. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read this post at Passionate Homemaking about soaking whole grains before cooking.)
Put on your rubber gloves. They will protect your hands from the hot cheese in the next step.
One at a time, put the balls of cheese on a ladle and dip into the hot whey for a few seconds. Pull the ball out and kneed it a bit in your hands. Dip it again and knead it some more. Work in 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of salt. Dip and knead some more. Keep dipping and kneading until the cheese is smooth and pliable and doesn't break when you stretch it. My five year old wants me to tell you that it's ready when it stretches like silly putty.
With the first ball you will want to take a little taste and make sure it's salty enough. And then repeat step Eight with all the other balls until you have six little balls of cheese.
Eat your homemade mozzarella warm and fresh, slice it and use it on sandwiches or grilled pizza, or get out some frilly tooth picks and make fancy little hors d'oeuvres for your fancy little helpers!
Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking! Happy Cheese Making!