Friday, September 01, 2017

Say cheese!

I hadn't made cheese for a long time, but I recently helped out with a chicken-sitting stint for friends who have a backyard coop and some garden beds in their backyard, and I had one beautiful orange tomato left, and I'd been wanting to see how mozzarella made from this delicious Jersey cow milk from Ithaca that they sometimes have at the local food coop would be.

Answer: pretty darned good.

To borrow from my own FB post - you have to admire the first person way back when who looked at milk that was in the first steps of the cheesification process and actually figured out that this wasn't as bad as it looked!

Warming slowly. Citric acid was added at 85 degrees and that's started things separating, the milk is now approaching 100 degrees and time for the rennet.

Curds and whey. If you ever wondered exactly what Little Miss Muffet was eating, now you know. It starts out a little tidier, but I've started scooping out the curds into a colander for draining. 

Ready for draining

Mostly drained

Broken up for heating in the whey. You can heat in a microwave, too, but mine (an ancient Half-Pint, with an actual turning dial for timing instead of the normal modern keypad, inherited from a departing housemate back in the 90's) broke last winter and I've found I don't really miss it that much. 


Unfortunately no fresh basil, but I did have some around drying and that worked OK. Nice bedtime snack.
BTW if you are interested in cheesemaking, I've been pretty happy with the 2 kits I started out with: a mozzarella kit from Roaring Brook Dairy and a basic cheesemaking kit from New England Cheesemaking Supply. The New England Cheesemaking Supply site is really beginner-friendly, with a whole how-to section. When I'm ready for a resupply, I'll probably just hit Murray's Cheese and get the components individually, but it was nice to start with a kit with everything you need plus good clear instructions. (ps these are unpaid plugs, just things/stores I've tried and been happy with). 

So far I've only tried mozzarella and cottage cheese. Maybe someday I'll try something that takes aging but for now I've been happy with the instant-gratification cheeses. Cottage cheese is ridiculously easy, although the first time I made it I had to get up at 4 am to finish it because I didn't read the instructions all the way through and got to the part where it said "Now turn off the stove and put the lid on the pot and let it sit for 6 hours" at 10 pm - oops! Was good, though. Mozzarella feels a little more involved because there is heating and kneading involved, but it's so cool when all the sudden the curd turns into recognizable "mootz", and the result is pretty good - OK, not as good as what I can get at any of the local Italian specialty markets but I do really enjoy the making, it's a fun messing-about-in-the-kitchen project.


Alana said...

Memories of my husband making cheese some 35 years ago with raw milk we were able to obtain and a kit from the New England Cheese Co. Time was, he also made sausages. Was so nice to read this post. I love fresh mozzarella!

bonnie said...

Oh, man, that must have been great. My friend Steve H, sometimes featured here as Steve the Paddling Chef, is a professional chef, and he was telling me that at one point he had a raw milk connection, he said the cheese he made from that was amazing.