For as long as I have been an avid cook, I have always wanted to learn how to make cheese. Specifically, fresh mozzarella. I have long had a love affair with the luscious white cheese. From the moment the tomatoes begin to bloom in my garden, all I can think about is that first plate of caprese.
Well, enough is enough. I can now officially say that I have made cheese. Yeah, sure, I've made simple yogurt cheeses in the past, but this was the real deal (no, it isn't aged cheese, lets not go that far).
I did a little research, and managed to rustle up the ingredients. Add another cooking event to my recent Iowa visit! I found instructions that looked reasonably user-friendly, and while the blogger indicated that it was an approximately two hour process, it actually ended up taking us about four hours, total. On the other hand, they also say they usually get about 12 ounces of cheese out of the process, and although we didn't have a scale handy to weigh ours, I'd say we definitely got more than that.
And? As a bonus? My picky eater son actually liked it! Woo-hoo!
I am not going to copy all the directions in here, as they are quite lengthy, but I will give you some bullet points to go with the pictures.
First, you need to bring your gallon of milk up to 50 degrees. So, if you want to try this, start early! Getting it up to temperature took well over an hour!
The next steps involve adding citric acid to the milk and bringing the temperature up to about 89 degrees, followed by adding a crushed rennet tablet and letting the mixture sit until you get a clean break; meaning that you can pull the curds apart with your finger.
At this point, you cut the curds with a knife and let them set again, followed by heating the milk back up to 108 degrees.After the heating, comes the draining of the curds,and then a few quick trips through the microwave to turn the curds into one solid mass and give it the texture and consistency that can be handled and shaped into the ever-familiar white ball.And VOILA! Say, cheese!!Definitely a time consuming process, but well worth it in the end for the freshness of the cheese. I will be serving this up at my book club meeting Friday night!