Well yogurt was not so difficult and we LOVE it! I ate a bite of plain Dannon Greek yogurt the other day and almost had to spit it out! Wow! I couldn't believe what a difference homemade yogurt could make. I guess there is no going back now :)
So I decided my next challenge is cheese. I chose to start with mozzarella since it can be completed in an hour and is ready to eat. I did quite a bit of research (which I recommend) and then I dove right in. The first question I had was what are the ingredients?
One gallon of whole milk
1/4 rennent tablet
1 tsp. citric acid
1-2 tsp. Cheese salt
My next questions was: what in the world is rennent and cheese salt?
-Cheese salt is an easy one, it is any salt that is NOT iodized (i.e. organic, sea salt).
-rennent is gross! It is curdled milk from the stomach of an unweaned calf, containing rennin and used in curdling milk for cheese. Told you it's gross! But the tablet is just a pill you buy at a brew/cheese supply store (they also carry citric acid). Thankfully commercially sold rennent is made from vegetable sources.
My husband stopped and picked up my supplies for me and I made cheese while he watched the Super Bowl. We had fresh mozzarella by half time, yay!
So here's what you do:
1. pour one gallon of milk into a large pot on the stove and sprinkle 1tsp. citric acid over the milk, stir well.
2. heat the milk to 90 degrees using a candy or kitchen thermometer, pay attention it does not take long.
3. as the milk is heating, dissolve the 1/4 rennent tablet into a few Tbsp. of water. When the milk is at 90 degrees, turn off stove, remove thermometer and pour the rennent water over the milk a few teaspoons at a time, making sure it is mixed all the way through.
4. Let the milk sit for 10 minutes, do not stir it. It becomes very thick and gelatin like.
5.This is the part that took me the most time. First cut the milk into large pieces ( pretend your slicing jello into cubes). Then using a slotted spoon separate the curdled milk from the whey ( white- yellowish liquid). I promise it doesn't stink like you may imagine. It just smells like warm milk!
6. Then heat it in the microwave for 30-45 seconds at a time squeezing more liquid out and pressing the milk solids together. When most of your liquid is removed stir in your cheese salt.
7. I removed it from the bowl at this point and started kneading it on a cutting board. Mine started to look like string cheese so I heated it again to form it into a log.
8. Once you get your cheese the way you want it submerge it in ice water for a few minutes to harden the loaf. I dried it for about 30 minutes on a rack, wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it into the fridge to harden and get cold overnight. This step was optional, because it is ready to eat right after it is formed. Just like all cheeses, you should store it in the fridge.
One gallon of milk yielded 1.1 lbs. of fresh mozzarella. I can't wait until summer when I can make bruschetta with tomatoes from the garden!
After my mozzarella success I researched how to make cottage cheese, cream cheese and hard cheeses....they seem like too much work for a mama of 7, but never say never, right?????