Monday, March 1, 2010

Cooking for Little Miss Muffet

That's right, it's curds and whey time. Who knew cheesemaking was so easy? A couple of gallons of whole, pasteurized milk, some buttermilk, a dash of rennet and a pinch of citric acid, et voila! Mozzarella and ricotta, just like that. I mean really - just. Like. That.

Thanks to Ready Made for placing the wild hair that got me all worked up in the first place; and then thanks to Kitchen Nightmares for making those restaurateurs go milk cows and make their own mozzarella, for really lighting the fire.

A quick spin around the interwebs led me to, which led me to chowhound (of course) hunting for rennet & citric acid suppliers in SF, which led me to Mollie Stone's (which didn't have either), which led me to Rainbow Grocery, which is always an interesting stop. (on that note, I'm not sure whether or not I recommend this, but I think not) Another quick stop at Soko for a candy thermometer, some clean kitchen gloves and some cheesecloth and I was ready to get down to business.
I'm already ready to start experimenting with lower fat milk and goat milk, but first things first.

I doubt it gets any easier than the ricotta recipe from Ready Made - a gallon of milk and 4 cups of buttermilk over heat? I mean really. I drained out a lot of the why from this cheese to make it firmer; I think next time around I'll leave a little more liquid in the mix since it was really stiff after refrigeration. It was delicious, and fresh tasting, and made about two cups of ricotta.

The mozzarella was a bit more complex, especially since some of us can't tell which side of the thermometer (C or F) one should be looking at and inadvertently watches the C side when they should be looking at the F side. * ahem * But it still turned out! Aside from completely ignoring the "sweet spot" temperature of cheesemaking I still managed to extract some curds, though this only yielded about one cup of finished cheese. It was a little denser and on the chewy side, but probably due to my inability to read and comprehend directions. 
Speaking of directions:
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, and milk from an organic local source is ideal.
  • Over medium low heat, bring one gallon of whole milk up to 55 degrees and add 1.5 tsp of citric acid (dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water), stir in thoroughly but gently.
  • When the mixture gets to 88 degrees add 1/4 tsp of liquid rennet (dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water), stir in gently for about 30 seconds.
  • Over medium heat, bring up to 105 degrees and keep it there for five minutes or until curds begin to form and separate from the side of the pot.  The whey should be almost clear, if milky white, allow to heat longer.
  • With a slotted spoon, scoop out the curds.  Don some rubber gloves and gently squeeze out as much whey as you can with your hands forming balls of cheese.
  • Place the cheese balls in the microwave (this is the faster method) for 30 seconds and then knead it, just like you would bread, squeezing out whey as you go.  Repeat this step several times, until the cheese has a slightly glossy sheen to it and can be pulled like taffy.  Add salt after the second kneading.

Maybe I'll try these directions (with helpful photos!) next time. It should be noted that my curds and whey looked like The Evil UP Milk That Should Just Be Thrown Away Curds and Whey of Death; but I still managed to make mozzarella out of them.

All in all, Cheese Day was a total delicious success, and led to the amazingly yummy Homemade Pizza Night to go with Open That Bottle Night. (Chupacabra and Pride Viognier if you were curious)

1 comment:

Toni said...

Aw. Miss Muffet. Grandpa's pet name for daughters and granddaughters alike.