A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mozarella Cheese

You can make your own cheese, and it’ll be good. Yes, right in the comfort of your own kitchen, probably with cooking equipment you already have. If you have an hour of time and an adventurous spirit, you can easily make your own mozzarella cheese. After one failed attempt I made mozzarella cheese in about an hour, though with some practice, it could probably be done in half that time. Mozzarella cheese is one of the easiest cheeses to make and since it can be used in a variety of dishes, sandwiches, pizzas, pasta, etc. it will disappear quickly.

Instead of going into the gory, step by step details of the process, Amazon has cheesemaking kits. It’s also a great resource for other free cheese recipes and cheese making supplies. The only two ingredients you’ll need that you may not be able to find in your local supermarket are rennet and citric acid, both of which you can purchase cheaply online. If you’re lucky enough to have an extensive local grocery store or cheesemaking shop in your town, you might be able to find them locally. Besides rennet and citric acid, the only other ingredient that you’ll need is whole milk. You’ll need to read the label carefully and make sure that the milk is NOT labeled “ultra pasteurized”. Ultra pasteurized milk has been heated to a high temperature that kills the bacteria and cultures needed to make cheese. Raw milk or pasteurized milk is OK.

One best facets of making mozzarella cheese is its simplicity, simplicity of ingredients and necessary equipment. All you will need is a pot large enough to hold a gallon of milk, a slotted spoon, some clean rubber gloves, and a kitchen thermometer. A candy thermometer is preferable to other types as you’ll want a large enough readout in the 80 to 110 degree range. This is the sweet spot for cheese, where you’ll want to hold the temperature of your mixture so the curds can set, so a thermometer that’s easy to read in this range is optimal.

Once you’ve tasted the cheese you can make in your own kitchen, you may be hooked. I’ve added cheese making to my weekly kitchen tasks and enjoy watching the curds set, then massaging the curds into small mozzarella mounds. Sure I still get my other, more complicated cheeses from my local grocer or farmers market, but soon enough I may experiment with another type of cheese with a higher degree of difficulty. Once you’ve made your own cheese, you’re part of an ancient tradition of turning milk into cheese, and you’re part of a select group of people who’ve made homemade cheese.

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