Ever get the itch to make your own cheese? … if the answer is no maybe this isn’t quite the place for you but thanks for stopping by :P. However, if the answer is yes please read on…(oh and please excuse the v glamorous gloves)
Since I am not the most patient creature in the world, making cheese that has to mature in a cellar or a cave for a few months was never going to work (also my cave is currently full). So mozzarella seemed to be a pretty good match, end to end it only takes about 15 minutes to make and can be eaten immediately.
I’ve had a couple of goes at this and with dramatically different results, and here’s why. As I’m sure you will be aware mozzarella exists in a couple of fairly distinct forms; the very soft creamy stuff usually found wallowing around in salty water and the firmer stuff that arrives in blocks for grating on things like pizza.
The only difference in the method to achieve one or the other is how much you knead the curds. The more you knead it the firmer the end product, so it’s worth bearing in mind if you want a soft creamy mozzarella, less is more.
Now there are definitely a couple of ingredients used here that aren’t the kind of thing you use every day, but I managed to find them at my local organic food shop and were cheap as chips.
Homemade Fresh Mozzarella
4 pints cold fresh whole milk (the less heavily processed the better)
1 teaspoon citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon of vegetable rennet diluted in 1/4 cup of cold water
1/4 cup salt in 2 pints of boiling water
1. Mix – In a large very clean saucepan pour your citric acid mix and add the milk, stirring constantly. The citric acid will cause the milk to split slightly, don’t panic this is meant to happen.
2. Heat – Place the saucepan over a low heat and gently heat the milk to 32ºC. Do this very slowly so you don’t overheat or things can go very wrong.
3. Rest – Add the rennet mixture and stir right from the bottom of the pan to make sure it is mixed thoroughly. This causes the milk solids to separate and leave you with curds (the solid stuff) and whey (the liquid). Cover and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
4. Slice and Heat – The curds should now form a smooth layer at the top of the pan that you can is set almost like jelly. If not, cover and leave for a couple more minutes for the rennet to work its magic. Slice the curds into 1 inch cubes in the pan to break it up into, well little cubes. Put the pan back on the heat until it reaches 32ºC.
5. Drain – Time to don your most glamorous marigold gloves as things get a little hot! Take the pan off the heat and drain the curds into a fine mesh strainer (we used a sieve).
6. Knead – Put the curds into a clean bowl and pour over enough of the boiling salt water mix. This will heat things up and make them nice and malleable as well as adding a little salty flavor. Pull the curds together and knead slightly, stretching the strands out (careful not to overwork here if you want to keep your mozzarella creamy). If the curds are not easy to work, pour away the salt water, which will have cooled slightly, and refresh with new hot salty water. Once you are happy with your lot, pull into a ball and wrap with cling film or leave to sit in a bowl of cold salted water. Your cheese will be softest when fresh, firming up a little after being chilled overnight.
Either enjoy straight away with some fresh basil and tomatoes or within a couple of days on some homemade pizza. Well worth the effort I think 😀