Milk Alchemy (or Make your own Mozzarella)
Myfirst foray into cheese making was a resounding success--a fact at which I am hugely surprised by, as cheese making is just so far outside what I thought a normal person could do. I was wrong and this was beyond impressive. It was also fun and not nearly as complicated as it seemed on first glance.
I also wrongly assumed this would be an expensive hobby, but we did our maths. The recipe below yields 1 pound of organic cow's milk mozzarella. Including a portion of the other ingredients I had to buy to make this (citric acid and vegetarian rennet) this cost me £3.75/lb. Organic cow's milk mozzarella in a supermarket (if you can get it) costs on average £6.50/lb. so my batch was HALF THE PRICE!!
One large pot
A slotted spoon
Heavy duty rubber gloves
A multi-purpose kitchen thermometer (accurate to the .1 degree)
A note on the equipment...for cheese making to be successful, you really need to use very clean and sterile equipment. Presumably, if you have a dishwasher, you can use things straight from there. We do not, so before I began, I boiled all of the equipment (bar the gloves and the thermometer) in the large pot to ensure sterility. This also gives me the opportunity to calibrate my thermometer to boiling point.
1 gallon full-fat/whole milk (6.5 UK pints) - should be pasteurised, not ultra-pasteurised or UHT milk
1.5 t citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
1/4 t liquid rennet (I used vegetarian rennet) diluted in 1/4 cup cool, unchlorinated water
1/4 cup salt
1. While stirring the milk, add the citric acid solution to the milk at 55 deg F/13 deg C. Mix thoroughly.
2. Heat the milk to 90F/32C over a medium/low heat. It will start to curdle
3. Stir in the diluted rennet with an up and down motion, whilst heating the milk to between 100F and 105F/ 38C and 40C. Turn off the heat. The curds should be pulling away from the sides of the pot.
4. Scoop out curds with a slotted spoon into a muslin-lined colander. Reserve the whey. Press the curds with your hand to remove as much whey as possible.
6. Add 1/4 cup of salt to the reserved whey and heat to at least 175F/ 79C.
7. Using a ladle, lower a ball into the hot liquid for several seconds.
8. Remove curd from whey and knead between 2 spoons or use your gloves and knead with your hands. Repeat this process several times until the curd is smooth and pliable. When the cheese stretches like taffy, its done. If the curds break, it needs to be reheated.
You can use the left-over whey to make whey pizza crust...which is a very good, quick dough, with a consistency similar to a whole wheat shortcrust pastry:
3 - 3 1/2 c flour (I used 2 c whole wheat flour and 1 cup white flour)
1 tsp salt
1 T yeast
1 c very warm whey
2 T olive oil
Mix 2 cups of the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl.
Add the whey and olive oil and mix.
Add in enough of the remaining flour to bring form a soft dough.
Knead 4-6 minutes.
Form into a ball and let rest 10 minutes in a floured or oiled bowl. Wrap in plastic and store in the fridge until use.
Makes one 14in pizza. (no there is no proofing in this recipe)
If you want to use your fresh mozzarella, you need to add it after the pizzas have been baking for awhile, as the moisture from the cheese will seep into the crust)