Guys. I made cheese. I did.
Hubs got me a cheese making kit for Christmas, and it took me three months to work up the nerve to try it out. But the good news is it was incredibly easy. The kit makes ricotta or mozzarella, but I did the mozz on my first go.
My supplies gathered. Looks like I'm ready for some minor chemistry.
Things you need and probably have: measuring cups and spoons, a stockpot, a colander,
ice, a candy thermometer, and a bowl or two.
Things you need and probably don't have: rennet tabs, cheese salt, and citric acid.
(Which are all included in the kit, plus a thermometer)
The one thing is, you can't use store bought organic milk. Most, if not all organic milk from the grocery store is ultra-pasteurized, and it just won't do for making cheese. So you either need to buy normal milk (which is the route I went) or procure some fresh milk from a local farmer. I'd like to do that sooner or later, just need to get a connect.
This is not so much a tutorial as it is a step-by-step look at what it takes to make cheese. I was intimidated by the process before I did it, but I'd like to encourage anyone who's thinking of trying to go for it!
It's really not hard.
That and I can't remember the precise temperatures and measurements. The instructional booklet
is in the other room, but today's my lazy day and Anthony Bourdain is on. So no.
First you combine some rennet and water, stir it into the milk, and bring it up to temp. Once it's at the right temperature, you pull it off the burner, stir in the citric acid and let sit for five minutes. Or until it becomes kind of firm, like custard. Mine took a little longer than five minutes, but who's counting. You take a big long knife and cut it into a grid pattern. Make a few stale jokes about cutting the cheese, wait for eyes to roll, and continue.
Put the pot back on the burner, and gently stir until it comes back up to temp. By the time it gets hot enough, the curds will have shrunk down. A lot.
Pour the whey out, and you'll have something like this staring at you.
There's a method for doing this in the microwave, but I'm trying to quit, so I utilized the water bath method. You bring a pot of water up to temp, put the cheese in a colander, and dunk it until it starts to melt into a big ball.
This was the only part I had difficulty with. The booklet stated that you might want to split the cheese into two parts in order to evenly heat it, but I kind of ignored the suggestion. I mean, that sounded like way more work. In the end I had to do it anyway, and kind of messed up half of the cheese in the process. But it's cool.
Once it gets hot enough, you stretch the cheese until it...well basically until it looks like normal mozzarella cheese. You can also sprinkle the cheese salt into it at this point, which I recommend for optimum yumminess.
So once you get your queso like you like it, let it rest in some cool water for five minutes, then sit in ice water for 15. Wrap up and tah dah!
Here are my results. The one on the right I overheated...or something. It was the outer layer of cheese before I finally decided that maybe I should pay attention to what the professional had advised. But it still tastes fine, it's just more like ricotta. The one on the left came out nicely.
Gonna make pizza with 'em tonight! I can't wait to try some homemade lasagna too. Give it a shot, and consider the kit. It has the unusual supplies, and a thermometer, some cheesecloth, and a great guide book with tips and recipes. There's also enough rennet and citric acid to make enough batches of cheese that the kit should pay for itself (imo).