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