Hi everyone! This week I was originally planning on doing veggie burgers and talking about vitamin B12 in the vegetarian/vegan diet, but I had a change of plans when a co-worker of mine brought me fresh basil and spinach from her garden. It inspired me to try to make my own mozzarella cheese to have with my garden fresh basil. I have seen my dad make mozzarella cheese on several occasions but I have never done it myself so this was an adventure for me. I am very much for making as much as possible myself rather than buying it at the store because more times than not it's easier to make that I think and it tastes a lot better than what I can buy at the store.
Mozzarella cheese was actually originally made from water buffalo milk, but today it is mostly made from cow's milk. This cheese is a soft cheese that can be eaten the same day it is prepared unlike hard cheeses that have to age for months. It is also slightly lower in fat than hard cheeses, even when made with whole milk. Mozzarella cheese is a good source of calcium, some B vitamins, and vitamins A, D, and E. There are many yummy ways to eat mozzarella including:
stopped with a tomato slice, basil leaf, and drizzled with balsamic vinegar
on a pizza
in a salad
melted in a hot sandwich
tossed in a pasta dish
Making this cheese was quicker than I thought it would be, it only too me about 45 minutes. I used the recipe from www.cheesemaking.com/howtomakemozzarellacheese.html. To make mozzarella cheese you need rennet which are enzymes that are used to break up the milk into curds during the heating process. You also need citric acid to alter the pH of the milk to, again, help break up the milk into curds. My dad was so kind to mail me some of his rennet and citric acid for this recipe.
a pot large enough for a gallon of milk
a metal slotted spoon
a thermometer - with a thermometer clip for the side for the side of the pot
a large bowl
a pair of rubber gloves
1 gallon whole milk - you can also use 2% but I wouldn't go any lower than that
1.5 tsp citric acid
1/4 tablet of rennet or 1/4 tsp of rennet
1 tsp of salt - make sure it is not iodized
1. Dissolve rennet in 1/4 cup of water and set aside.
2. Add citric acid to 1 cup of cool water and add to pot. Pour milk over the citric acid.
3. Heat the milk over medium heat until it reached 90 degrees F - this is when it is helpful to clip the thermometer on the edge of the pot for consistent monitoring. The milk will start curdling at this point - if you don't notice you milk curdling when it reaches 90 degrees, the temperature may need to be increased to 95-105 degrees F.
4. Once your milk has reached 90 degrees (or 95-105 degrees) remove from heat. Add rennet solution to the milk and use slotted spoon to stir in a up-down motion for 30 seconds.
5. Cover pot and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes check the curds - this should look like custard and have a clear separation. If you do not notice this, allow the milk to sit covered for up to 30 minutes. I did this in 5 minute increments and had to let my milk stand for an additional 20 minutes before my curds were just right.
6. Using a knife cut the curds into one inch squares. Place milk back on medium heat and as you stir the curds let the temperature rise to 105 degrees F. Once 105 degrees is reached, remove pot from heat and stir the curds for an additional 2-5 minutes - I stirred my for an additional 5 minutes because I wanted my cheese a little more firm, if you prefer a softer cheese stir for less time.
7. With the slotted spoon, scoop curds into the colander and drain the liquids (whey) off of the curds by pressing the curds with your hand.
8. Place the curds in the microwave safe bowl and heat the curds in the microwave for 1 minute. After 1 minute put your gloves on and drain off any whey. Repeat these steps two more times heating the curds for 35 seconds instead of a minute draining any additional whey in between.
9. Remove the curds from the bowl and knead the curds until they become smooth and shiny. If the curds have cooled, heat in microwave for an additional 20-30 seconds so that the curds may be warm for stretching. Stretch your cheese several times (I probably stretched mine 8-10 times).
10. Shape your cheese and allow to cool. Enjoy! :)