I enjoy this homemade cheese with Heirloom cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and a fruity olive oil drizzled on top. I've become more comfortable making this recipe so experience does help. I also tend to make it for large groups so beware, the images in the steps section are larger quantities than the ingredients listed below will produce. My next attempt will include milking the cow, or at least driving down to the Pike Place Market to see what the creamery has to offer. I suspect that given a non-homogenized, non-pasteurized milk would yield a more interesting result.
This is a rather novel thing to make and well worth the effort. Be sure to have other things to do while the process unfolds. Don't rush it and you'll have a delicious cheese in the end. In the event that a batch doesn't work perfectly, make a lasagna and toss in the cheese...it'll be the best lasagna you've ever made. Ask me how I know that!
|Number of servings:||8 - 12, about 1 1/2 pounds|
|Main Ingredient(s):||Cheese - Mozzarella|
|Skill Level:||3 (1 Easy - 5 Hard)|
|Estimated POINT value:|
- 1 gallon non-pasteurized, non-homogenized milk is best. Come as close as you can.
- 2 teaspoons citric acid - Frontier is kosher
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher, vegetarian liquid concentrated rennet, New England Cheesemaking Company sells it online
- 1/4 cup kosher salt for the 2nd half of the steps, optional
Pour milk into a non-reactive pot. Stainless steel is great.
Add the citric acid by sprinkling it over the top. Stir. Heat the milk to 91 degrees, use a thermometer and don't let it get too hot. If it does, remove from the heat and cool it to 91 degrees.
The citric acid combined with the heat will cause the milk to curdle. Perfect.
Sprinkle the renet over the top and stir briskly for 15 seconds.
This is a small bottle of vegetarian renet from the New England Cheesemaking Company.
Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Maintain the heat at 91 degrees. I leave mine over the pilot light on the gas range. The renet will cause the milk to separate, forming a white mass in the remaining whey.
Cut the cheese with a long knife. Tilt the knife at an angle and try to cut 1/2" chunks. Doesn't have to be perfect. While cutting, be careful not to stir. Just make gentle slices through the curds.
After the cut curds have sat for 5 minutes, gently stir them with a slotted spoon.
Cover the curds and try to maintain the 91 degree temperature. After 10 minutes, gently stir the curds. Repeat this 2 more times. Then, let sit undisturbed for 30 minutes.
With a mesh strainer, lift the curds from the pot, letting the whey drain back into the pot.
Put the curds into a bowl that is lined with cheesecloth.
Gather the corners of the cheesecloth and secure with a knot.
Hang the balls of curds over the pot. I thread the knot around the handle of a wooden spoon. The idea is to leave room underneath for the whey to drain from the ball of curds.
The balls of curd should drain in the fridge overnight. Save the pot of whey in the fridge as well. We need it for the next set of steps.
The next day, remove the pot of whey from the fridge. Heat to 175 degrees, no hotter. Also remove the balls of curds from the fridge. Remove the cheesecloth. The curds should be one firm ball. Cut the ball into cubes.
Using the same strainer that you used to remove the curds from the whey, we are now going to place a couple of cups worth of the cubed curds into basket. Lower the strainer into the heated whey. With a gloved hand, squish the curds in the liquid. They'll start to melt and as you 'knead' them, they start looking like cheese. The idea is to be able to stretch the cheese a few times until it is shiny, smooth and doesn't break.
Once the curds are hot and pliable, put the strainer aside and start pulling with both gloved hands. Dip into the hot whey if you need the cheese to 'give' more. Once it is smooth and shiny, it is done.
Form into logs and store in salted cold water. My experience is that this doesn't keep long. Then again, it is always eaten so quickly, hard to know for sure.
To make the Caprese Salad, slice the cheese and arrange on a platter. Add either the cherry tomatoes or slices of tomatoes, Heirlooms being my favorite. Julienne some fresh basil and sprinkle over the salad. Drizzle some quality extra virgin olive oil on top and garnish with basil leaves. Done!
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