Saturday, October 22, 2011

Making fresh mozzarella

It's not much to look at, but it sure is tasty...
Over the past few years, I've been delving into making my own fresh cheeses. One of my favorites is fresh mozzarella, I enjoy it with tomatoes as a caprese snack, or for my boyfriend to use on his homemade Neapolitan style pizza.

I find it takes about an hour requires some basic supplies, and it's very rewarding. Here are the hardest things to find:
  • Citric Acid (I get it from the beer brewing supply store, but it's also readily available from Indian grocers)
  • Rennet (Rennet or Junket can be found with the canning supplies at the grocery, or get liquid rennet from a cheese shop, mine's made from Stinging Nettel)
  • Good milk, I like to get Strauss milk from the local grocers in San Francisco
I like to use this recipe as a guide, but here's the gist:

  1. Boil water for stretching as you start heating the curd. 
  2. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of citric acid to 1/2c water, add this to 1 gallon of milk.
  3. Stir gently, lifting up & down until the milk comes to 90 degrees.
  4. After the rennet is added (3-5 drops of my 3x rennet or 1/8 tsp, in 1/8c water), don't touch it.
  5. To test if the curd has set (about 5 min), check with very clean fingers - it should feel similar to silken tofu.
  6. Cut the curd into cubes using your knife vertically, and your spoon horizontally through the curd.
  7. Strain the curd by scooping it carefully into the colander.
  8. Save some of the whey for storing the cheese.
  9. Take a small scoop of cheese curd (I use a small 1/4 or 1/8 measuring cup), and lower it into very hot salty water. The salt in the water is your only real chance to add any salty flavor the cheese.
  10. Once the cheese has heated up, gently stretch it a few times with your fingers. This will give you a very delicate cheese. 

    1. Knead it more if you want a thicker cheese for shredding. 
    2. You might want to wear rubber gloves if your hands are sensitive. This helps form it into a ball, like you see at the store.
  11. Salt the whey, and store the balls in the whey in the fridge.

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