All this meat curing for #Charcutepalooza just happened to spur thoughts of cheese making in my head. I already had some parmesan aging. It’s 6 months into it’s 10 month age. It also just so happens that we’re having some friends over on Saturday for some house made pizza. They’ve got two young boys and my thought was to give them something to do. So, I got a couple of gallons of milk and made two batches of mozzarella. It’s one of the first cheeses I made several years ago. It’s quite easy once you have all the ingredients.
I get my cheesemaking supplies from New England Cheesemaking Supply. It’s where I bought my first mozzarella kit. It’s a great source and the owner Ricki Carroll has written a very straightforward book on cheese making. The book, Home Cheese Making is also available there.
For mozzarella you need milk, citric acid and rennet. Oh, and a microwave, although you can get by without it. Optionally you can add lipase powder too. It adds a deeper “cheese” flavor.
The milk is heated in a pot on the stove to 55°F and the citric acid is added and the lipase if using. You keep heating over moderate heat until 90°F when you add the rennet. Then wait until the temperature rises to 100°F – 105°F. After a few minutes it looks like the picture on the right. The curds and whey have separated.
The curds are ladled off and into a microwaveable bowl. Pressing with a slotted spoon the excess whey is drained off. Then into the microwave for a minute. Pressing, folding and draining is next and two more trips into the microwave for 35 seconds. I gets kneading at this point, usually with the slotted spoon as it’s pretty hot. As soon as it’s cool enough to handle though I switch to using my hands. When it’s stretchy form into a ball and voila, it’s done.
It’s used right away or cooled in ice water and then stored in a bath of the cooled whey.
The second batch I experimented with and didn’t squeeze as much whey out of nor did I knead it as much, trying to get more of a fresh mozzarella texture. I’ll see how that works out on Saturday.
I hope to smoke some of it tomorrow or the next day in the new smoker. Although I need to find some other thing to smoke. Can’t fire up the smoker just for a pound of cheese.
Our guests on Saturday include a woman who is from Spain. So, I also had the nerve to make manchego cheese last week. Ricki’s book has a recipe and I learned that there are three types: manchego fresco, aged 5 days or so; machego curado, aged a few weeks and manchego viejo, aged the longest. It’s the latter you see in the stores here. I’m anxious to try it. You can see it in the tub in the picture below, keeping my parmesan and pancetta company in the mini fridge.