Friday, June 17, 2011

Homemade Mozzarella

So it only took us two months since our cheese making course to actually... you know... whip out the ol' rennet and citric acid and make some cheese. Of course we had forgotten basically everything we learned from the course at that point, but luckily Anna, like the excellent student she is, took copious notes... so all was not lost.

Knowing that the level of pasteurization of the milk is critical in mozzarella making... pasteurization at temps of 191-212 F are common in supermarket milk (especially organic)... we picked up milk from a local farm at Formaggio Kitchen.

Milk for Cheese Making

As long as you have good milk, the recipe is fairly straightforward. In short: you add some acid to your milk to start it curdling, get it up to 90 F and then add your rennet, let it rest until a solid curd has formed, cut the curds and then drain them... and finally heat (to 175 F) and stretch the curds. So not too hard, right? Our only difference from what I linked is that we did it on the stove, not a hot water bath... the danger there being that you can scald the milk on the stove, but we did fine in that regard. Besides the milk, the key variable is how much you work the curds, which will determine how dry the final product is. In fact, if you like a super soft and moist mozzarella, there are recipes that involve no handling at all (though without stretching, it's not technically mozzarella).

I'd advise a good thermometer, but besides the rennet and citric acid there isn't anything else you need to special order. Note that this isn't a way to save money or anything... getting good milk is fairly expensive (unless you own a cow of course)... like 5-6$ for a gallon of milk to make, I dunno, half a pound of cheese at most? I thought our final product was great... and it was fresh as can be... but was it better than 5-6$ mozzarella from the store? Maybe, maybe not... though admittedly this was our first attempt... but, regardless, making it was certainly a lot more fun than shopping.

We decided to try our mozzarella on smitten kitchen's roasted peppers, capers, and mozzarella salad... though we subbed in basil for parsley. Not much to say about the recipe itself... thought it turned out really well, and was easy enough to follow. Recommend... a great way to show off homemade mozzarella.

Roasted Peppers with Capers and Homemade Mozzarella