And you thought I’d forget to post about this… 😉
When I wanted to make mozzarella I knew the place to go was cheesemaking.com. I had heard of Ricki Carroll the “Cheese Queen” more than once. She is the go to person for beginning cheesemaking. I am not going to describe the cheesemaking process step by step here. Instead I’ll offer up what I learned and refer you to her site for the rest. I was going to buy her 30 Minute Mozzarella and Ricotta kit. After breaking down the price and reviewing the mozzarella recipe I decided to order my ingredients separately. It was more cost effective for me because a)I already had a thermometer and b)I didn’t need muslin that came with the kit as I didn’t plan to make ricotta (and would probably make due with something else anyway).
I placed my order on a Wednesday for two items:
I was seriously impressed when I opened my mailbox on Friday (only 2 days later) and found my order in there. I paid for it with my debit card and they didn’t actually debit my account until the following week. Talk about fast!
A note about ordering through Ricki’s company: First off, I felt like it was only right to support her business since I knew I was going to use her online tutorials to make my cheese. Second, before fully recommending her I did snoop around online a bit and compare prices. I didn’t find lower prices at any of the other cheese supply places. I suspect you could find citric acid cheaper at a bulk foods store but I don’t think it would be worth it for the extra time and shipping. Ricki’s business is good at what they do so I’m going to stick with the pros.
As I said, I already had a thermometer that read over 110 degrees. I had a gallon of raw milk from our cow share, although according to Ricki’s site you can make mozzarella with some store bought milks and even with a combination of cream and dry milk. I used my big stainless steel pot with non-stick coating (no aluminum) and wooden and plastic utensils. I also got out my big plastic mixing bowl and my Pyrex bowl as well. Time to make cheese!
Following the recipe
Ricki has posted extensive directions for making mozzarella here. I suggest reading through the entire thing first: both the picture subtitles and the written directions at the bottom. I found several differences between the two sets of directions so just went with the written directions on most things.
When it comes time to “knead” the cheese I did not flip it out on the counter. I dividing the curds directly into two big bowls (one wouldn’t hold it all). I microwaved one while I was pressed and kneading the second one with a slotted spoon. I just flipped and pressed, flipped and pressed, with the spoon while the cheese was in the bowl. Then I poured off the whey and swapped bowls. When I couldn’t get much whey out anymore I set both bowls in the fridge to cool. More whey came off while cooling so I poured that out every few minutes. Finally, I combined the cheese in to one lump and wrapped it in plastic wrap. I set it on a hand knit dishcloth in the fridge. The cloth absorbed any extra runoff, plus as the cheese cooled it created a neat design on the one side.
I rinsed out the original milk jug. After the whey had cooled I put it back in the jug and froze it for later use in baking. You can see how much there is – almost a full gallon.
Getting a Cheese You Like
You’ll see in the directions that letting the curd set up longer and handling the cheese more are both supposed to produce a firmer cheese. The first time around I following the directions exactly. The cheese was too soft to shred well, which is what I wanted to do with it. This last time I let the curd set up for 10 minutes plus a little extra because by then I was mixing up a loaf of bread. I also heated the cheese and pressed it several times (4 or 5). Then, as described above, I continued to pour off all the whey I could during the cooling process. I’m much happier with the cheese this time although I’m still not sure it is quite hard enough to shred easily.
While I am thrilled that the cheese LOOKS exactly like it should, I’m not as happy with the taste. It doesn’t taste bad, it just doesn’t have much flavor. I think the solution to this is adding lipase. According the recipe webpage, “Lipase may be added to the milk to provide a typical italian cheese flavor.” On the lipase page it gives directions for adding a very small quantity to the milk. I plan to order the lipase soon and try it. I wish I would have ordered it originally to save on the shipping – which you may want to do if you anticipate making the cheese very often.
I was pleasantly surprised by how easy is is to make mozzarella. This gives me hope that I can make more cheeses in the future. It is nice to know exactly what we’re eating instead of using cheese from the store made with who knows what. Plus, I like it that I can still use the whey for baking so I’m not using up an entire gallon of milk. We’re one step closer to an all local diet, I gained a new skill in the process, and I might be a little closer to convincing hubby to get me that milk cow. 🙂