Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rare cooking post

Today I made fresh mozzarella!

This was actually the third time I attempted this recipe.
The first two times produced something akin to cauliflower shaped bouncy ball.
And you don't want to know how awful it tasted.
Hint: We unsuccessfully used it as mouse trap bait in the garage.

Having finally produced something yummy, 
I wanted to do this little pictorial cooking tutorial for my friends 
who like to try their hand at homemade stuff.

First, I started with one gallon of whole milk.
(not my counters, unfortunately, but I loved the picture at )

Then, pour milk into a large, non-reactive pot.
Next, get out a clean glass and put one cup of water in the glass.
To this, add 2tsp. Citric Acid. 
(mistake I made with batch #1 was leaving this out)
I bought mine at the local crazy health food lady's store.

Next, whisk like a crazy person trying to make whipped cream out of whole milk 
and pour the dissolved citric acid/water into the pot of milk in a tiny, thin stream. 
(mistake I made with batch #2...not stirring with enough vigor 
thereby allowing the citric acid the opportunity 
to curdle the milk prematurely)
Do not stop pouring or whisking. 
Grow an extra arm if you must... but do NOT stop whisking.
NEXT... heat the milk SLOWLY to 90 degrees. 
Once it hits 90 degrees, take it off of the heat and add
1/2 tsp of Rennet.
I used actual rennet from one of these:
but you can also purchase this:
or this stuff... but I'm not sure about the conversion:
Stir for almost a minute, being sure to get it all blended up well.
You can't SEE the rennet being mixed in... so you want to be sure to stir from the top to the bottom, then bottom to top, side to side... blendy, blendy, blendy... all nice and uniform like.

Don't touch the pot.
It likes its alone time.
Resist the temptation.

Come back in about 10 minutes.
It's still sitting there, doing it's thing....
that's fine.
What you should see now may look something like this:
Uh huh... 
yummy, right?
Okay... well, next...
you want to take a knife and cut little squares in the curds.
That's the money shot, baby.
Good stuff.
Okay. Now walk away again.
I know... it's hard.
Just do it.

When you come back in about 10 more minutes,
you will want to get a large bowl and put a colander inside of it in the sink.
I used my cheapest plastic one that never drains well.
Gently pour the pot of curds into the colander.
I let all the whey drain into the bowl to give to my dog, 
but you can also use this to water some acid loving plants if you like. 
Or you can dump it... to each her own.
 After I got the colander out of the bowl of whey, I started rinsing the curds with hot water.
This is where the magic starts happening!
I used the hottest water out of the tap and just tilted the colander around in a circle while rinsing it off, getting all of the whey out and it magically starts forming a ball!
I dumped it into a bowl of SALTY hot water.
Yeah... looks AWESOME, right?
Okay... just wait.

So, once in the hot salty water, I was able to stretch and knead the cheese, almost like making pizza dough.
It stretched quite well and became somewhat addictive to play with!
However, don't over-do the stretching.
Once I was happy with the consistency, I rolled it back around in the hot water till it looked like a log...
and plopped it on the counter to take this picture:
I know the picture looks like a roll of frozen bread dough, but it's cheese!!
And it was yummy!
Needs a little more salt, which I will try to incorporate next time... 
but its WHEY WAY better than store-bought fresh mozzarella!

Thanks to my friend Julie for giving me cheese pointers 
the last two times with the failed batches!

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