Mozzarella

Thank goodness for two extra pairs of hands, because we made four pounds of mozzarella this weekend! Ricki Carroll’s 30-minute mozzarella recipe is super-easy and makes a yummy cheese.

The raw ingredient: half a gallon of whole milk and half a gallon of 2%.

The milk must be heated to 55 degrees, then citric acid is added. The milk is then heated to 90 degrees, and the rennet is added. (Adam also likes to add calcium chloride, to help the cheese form nicer curds. He had been doing this at 89 degrees, or right before adding the rennet, but things got a little crazy in the kitchen, and one of our helpers added it at 80 degrees. The cheese stretched very nicely for that batch, so this may be our new procedure!)

Adding the rennet causes the exciting part to happen.

The milk begins to curdle. I suppose this may not look appetizing, unless you know what the end result is going to be.

More stirring and heating, then it’s time to pour everything into a cheesecloth, drain the whey (we didn’t save it this time, but you can make English Muffin Bread, ricotta cheese, and probably other things we haven’t yet discovered) and begin playing with the mozzarella.

Using the microwave, the mozzarella is heated for a few seconds, then kneaded, heated, kneaded, heated, kneaded…you get the idea. This gives the mozzarella that wonderful stretchiness and stringiness. Before microwaves, the cheese was dipped into the hot whey to heat it up to a workable temperature. What’s a workable temperature? Hot enough that you can only hold the cheese for about 5 seconds without juggling it, and the palms of your hands turn red and radiate heat – a nice feeling for someone with perpetually cold hands!

Adam’s flashier twist-n-stretch.

 

 

 

 

Once it’s attained a nice stretchiness, it’s time to shape the cheese. Adam hasn’t created a ball of mozzarella yet that he’s happy with. It’s difficult to get a nice, smooth skin on the cheese, and a perfect sphere seems impossible. I say it’s the taste that counts, but we can keep practicing!

Before you begin shaping the ball is the perfect time to taste the cheese. It doesn’t get any fresher, and it’s a wonderful temperature yet from the microwaving and stretching. We were getting hungry, so one ball of mozzarella is a bit smaller than the rest. But I digress…

Into an ice bath for 30 minutes to cool off and lock it into its shape.

 

 

 

 

Remove, pat off the excess moisture, allow to air dry a bit, and you’re done! 30 minutes for a great mozzarella!

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