One of my goals for 2013 was to learn to make cheese.
I know that may seem like a strange goal, but I have been wanting to learn for several years. For Christmas, I received a starter kit from the Cheese Queen. Last Saturday, I finally got the nerve up to make my first batch of mozzarella.
Seriously, I was really nervous. The process didn't take that long (30 or so minutes), but I knew that everything had to be perfect temperature and time wise. And I am the kind of girl who doesn't level off cups when I add flour. So yeah, a little nervous.
First, I added citric acid to a gallon of whole, pasteurized (but not ultra pasteurized) milk. Then I heated the liquid up to 90° F.
At 90°, I pulled the milk off of the stove and added the rennet. This is the part where I messed up. I (think that I) stirred the rennet in too vigorously. This caused the curd to not set into a big piece.
After I mixed the rennet in, I let the mixture sit for 5 minutes while the curd form.
If the curd had formed correctly, I would have poured off the whey and set the curd in a hot water bath.
Since I had broken the curd up into smaller pieces, I improvised. I strained the curd through a cheese cloth, then shaped the curd into a larger shape.
Back on track, I then put the curd in 185° water, added cheese salt, and stretched it like taffy (the fun part!).
Because I messed up part of it, the cheese was a little harder (I like the really soft mozzarella). But the flavor was still really good.
Here is my completed mozzarella!
Honestly, there was a point, when the curd wasn't setting right, where I almost cried. That's my typical response to things not working right in the kitchen. But I was determined to make mozzarella! I am glad my improvisation worked!
Our pizzas that night with my homemade mozzarella!
You can tell it's a little harder than I planned--I should have grated the mozzarella on the cheese, because it didn't spread very well.
For both of these pizzas, I made the dough, the sauce and the cheese!
I am going to make one more batch of mozzarella (maybe Sunday?) and then try my hand at some more soft cheeses (Ricotta, cream cheese, goat cheese). When I feel confident in those, I will move on to hard cheeses!