Say Cheese!

One of the more intriguing gifts I received this past Christmas was a “Cheesemaking Kit”. We’ve gotten into making stuff from scratch here at The Aerie – fresh bread, fresh pizza, fresh pasta. What better to go on it than a little fresh mozzarella, right?

Kit

Kit

A rare, rainy weekend here in San Diego provided plenty of play in the kitchen, so we figured why not? We’d bought a gallon of whole milk during the week and were ready to go.

The instructions claimed “30 Minute Mozzarella”, which sounded optimistic. As a long time experimentalist, I knew the first time you ran through a procedure it always took longer than you’d think it should.

Stir stir stir

Stir stir stir

The first step was preparing the rennet (the enzyme mix that causes the coagulation of milk) and citric acid solutions and warming the milk a bit and stirring a lot. The rennet goes in last and the milk is taken off the heat. It should form a custard-y sort of texture – separating curds from whey.

Slice

Slice

The curd-custard is cut into a checkerboard sort of motif and then slowly warmed again at which point the curds are removed and left to strain. Ours looked a little like cottage cheese, but they firmed up nicely.

Curd-ish

Curd-ish

Our curds then went back into almost-boiling water a few times which warms them up so that they can be stretched (and a little salt gets added). Penny was hoping that they might stretch all the way down to her, but no such luck, Pup.

Stretchy

Stretchy

A cool water bath followed by an ice-water bath and we had shiny tennis-ball sized mozzarella! A quick taste test confirmed success!

And, done!

And, done!

For us, it was more like 50 Minute Mozzarella, and I think we might have over-stretched ours a bit (it was firmer than we’d expected), but we turned a gallon of milk into almost a pound of cheese. It was a lot of fun and really pretty easy. If you’re at all interested, I’d definitely give it a shot. Our kit and all the materials came from cheesemaking.com, which has a lot of tips and other cool things to try.

Not surprisingly, though,  I’ll be stepping away from the computer here in a bit to start some pizza dough.

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28 thoughts on “Say Cheese!

  1. I prefer a slightly firmer mozzarella to the soft, sticky stuff sold in containers at the local Italian deli, so your cheese would have been great to me! Firmer cheese also grates better, which makes it a lot easier to sprinkle on pizza and other cheesy dishes, like lasagna.

    I’ve made cream cheese at home, but I wasn’t entirely sure it was worth the effort. It is a lot cheaper than the Philadelphia stuff they sell at the market.

    • HG — Yes, we cut ours into discs (like we do for deli mozz) and it didn’t melt as much as we’d expected — found out after that’s a tendency for low-moisture cheeses. So, we’ll definitely grate it in the future.

      We had fun making this and I bet we’ll try some other kinds as well as trying to get mozz down!

  2. How fun! Mum used to make cheese out of our goats’ milk and of course yoghurt from Mama cow’s milk. I never liked any of it! I grew to like mozz and cheddar, though! :) It looks like you had a lot of fun. I love the one with Penyy looking at the mozz bowl!

    • MT — I’d wished I’d thought ahead, because I bet there’s 100 things that we could have done with the whey rather than pouring it down the sink.

      Never fear, Penny got her tastes. :)

      • I don’t use whey in my lacto-fermenting (shite just comes with it, I allow it to ferment on its own BUT using whey speeds veg fermentation) but it’s like SUPER common.

        It can also be used as the moisture in bread-making (mum only ever made good bread with it — she did these sourdough rolls, she called them, but they weren’t a thing like sourdough bread you get in shops — they were AWESOME yeasty-bread stuff, big and poufy and the whey added to it greatly).

        My ‘knowledge’ stops there ;p

    • Lauri — it was really pretty quick. If we would have thought everything through and had the different water baths ready, it would have been a ton faster.

    • John — good point! I’d forgotten about that even though our go-to commercial mozz has a buffalo right on it! Oy.

      I have a hunch there will always be some in the house if you’re ever in the neighborhood. Never fear!

    • Cloud — they have a link for that. And I do have some experience growing things in culture, you know. I always think yogurt is the only food that tastes you when you taste it!

  3. Looks like fun but I already get accused of being too “cheesy”. Don’t want to reinforce the accusation.

    My daughter made cheese once. I was cleaning her room and found an “aged” glass of what appeared to have once been milk. It looked nowhere near as tasty as your concoction. :)

    • Emmy — the taste was fresher — if you’d ever had fresh cheese curds from a dairy, they were like that. Though I’m not sure we nailed the texture. It also could have used a little more salt, I think.

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