I can't remember where I saw this idea but somewhere out in that great swirling cosmos of the blogosphere I came across a recipe for making your own mozzarella. Really.
The idea was so intriguing, so wild, so "COOL!" that I had to give it a try that week and here are the results.
Somehow it's nice to know that should I ever be out of cheese but in possession of a cow I can make unlimited cheese pizza.
I wonder . . . can you milk a moose?
Forget I asked that.
one gallon of whole milk
one crushed Rennet tablet (found in baking aisle near tapioca)
2 teaspoons citric acid (found at health food stores)
1 tablespoon sea salt
large stainless steel pot
slotted spoon to scoop and drain
heat proof bowl
1. Dissolve the crushed rennet tablet in about a tablespoon of water
2. Pour your milk into a large pot on the stove like you see above. Whole milk is best but you can use 2% or even skim it just won't be as rich.
The very very best to have is farm fresh milk straight from the cow (or moose?) but if you're like me you may not have access to a bovine beast so do what you can. Did you know that authentic mozzarella is made from buffalo milk? I'm full of trivia today.
3. Get your thermometer ready and put the heat on the milk to medium low. Add the citric acid and stir it into the milk. Citric acid isn't too expensive, I think I got that huge plastic thingie of it for about $5. Enough to supply the entire western hemisphere with mozzarella for a month.
4. Stir in the diluted rennet tablet and stir it thoroughly up and down into the milk. With the citric acid and the rennet into the pot you'll see the whole thing begin to curdle like you see in picture 2.
5. Continue to heat the mixture as it curdles, up to 105 degrees, stirring gently, then turn off the heat and let it set for about 30 minutes.
6. Strain the curds from the whey (the watery liquid that has separated from the curds--remember your Miss Muffet? Now you know what that stuff she was eating is). You can reserve the whey and make your own ricotta which is my next project to post but more on that later.
In the meantime put the curds in a heat-proof bowl and squeeze them gently to get rid of any extra whey that might be lingering then break them up gently with your fingers. Sprinkle the salt over the top and stir it in a bit. Also, if you wish to add any spices such as basil now is the time to add a dash of herbs to your concoction.
7. Okay here's the tricky part--really tricky. If you're doing this with children this is where you'll really need to supervise. You're going to have to heat the curds up again to about 165 degrees to be able to form a nice smooth ball of cheese.
You can do this by heating up the whey to about 180 and pouring a bit of the hot liquid over the curds but this didn't work well for me. Instead I used my microwave but you'll have to watch it carefully. Better to put it on very low power and heat it slowly than to heat it too much and cook it. Zap it bit by bit until it becomes pliable and stretchy but not melted.
8. Don't burn yourself and work the cheese into a smooth ball either with your hands or with the backs of a couple of spoons like you see in picture 3.
Mine here isn't as smooth and pretty as it should be but this was my first batch which I heated with the hot whey method and it didn't work so well. Plus I put herbs in it which gave it some more texture.
Your mozzarella is now ready and you can eat it any time you choose but the best way to save it is to wrap it in plastic wrap or in a plastic bag where it will keep for about 8 days give or take.
It would be great in a Caprese salad with fresh tomatoes and basil and some high-quality olive oil or on a pizza which is how we ate this batch. VERY good.
Sponsored by Dimples and Dandelions with the Serena and Lily Bedding Collection for children.