Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

Adapted from Rikki Carroll at http://www.cheesemaking.com/. Inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle."
1 gallon pasteurized milk (NOT ultra-pasteurized)
1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool water OR 1/4 rennet tablet diluted in 1 cup cool water
Cheese salt
Measure out all the additives before you start, in clean glass or ceramic cups. Use unchlorinated water.
Stir the milk on the stove in a stainless steel kettle, heating very gently. At 55 degrees add the citric acid solution and mix thoroughly. At 88 degrees it should begin to curdle.
Gently stir in diluted rennet with up-and-down motion, and continue heating the milk to just over 100 degrees, then turn off heat. Curds should be pulling away from sides of pot, ready to scoop out. The whey should be clear. (If it’s still milky, wait a few minutes.)
Use a large slotted spoon or ladle to move curds from pot to a 2-quart microwavable bowl. Press curds gently with hands to remove as much whey as possible, and pour it off. Microwave the curds on high for one minute, then knead the cheese again with hands or a spoon to remove more whey. (Rubber gloves help - this gets hot!) Microwave two more times (about 35 seconds each), kneading between each heating.
At this point, salt the cheese to taste, then knead and pull until it’s smooth and elastic. When you can stretch it into ropes like taffy, you are done. If the curds break instead, they need to be reheated a bit. Good stretching temperature is 175 degrees. Once cheese is smooth and shiny, roll it into small balls to eat warm or store for later in the refrigerator.

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