Cheese making 102- Mozzarella
In an earlier post I made Ricotta Cheese. It was so easy I bragged that the next step would be making Mozzarella cheese. While I got Ricotta right on it my first attempt Mozzarella was not as successful. It may have been the pan I used (aluminum) or something I did wrong. I any case I went back to the project with a more successful result. This time I made Mozzarella cheese!
Now I had read that a variety if factors could keep you from success. Anything from the pan (reactive) to the milk (homogenized). I tried to eliminate all of the negative factors I could and, in the end, got about a pound of cheese out of a Gallon of milk. Not a bad deal when you consider i only spent $1.29 on the milk!
The process of making Mozzarella cheese is mostly about temperature. While in making Ricotta cheese you need to bring the milk to 200 degrees in making Mozzarella the temperature is only brought to 110 degrees. Additionally, the recipe call fore citric acid (powdered) which aids in the curd formation. Although I have been told that I could find this at a drugstore when I went there and asked about it I was looked at as if I were speaking in tongues. My next step was to find a store that sold supplies for beer and wine making. I had a better result here.
To begin the process I poured 1 gallon of milk into a non reactive pan (stainless steel) and added 2 teaspoons of citric acid powder (do not use ascorbic acid as it is NOT the same thing). I then raised the temperature of my milk,slowly, to 88 degrees at which point I added 1/2 tablet of rennet (available in any supermarket pudding section). I then took the pot off the stove for 30 minutes to let the curds set. When I was satisfied I had gotten the most from my mix I cut the curds by running a knife through them ( about 2 inch by 2 inch) then scooped the curds into a colander to drain the whey ( the liquid that is left).
The next step is where modern technology triumphs over age old tradition. Whereas in the past the next step would be to raise the temperature of the curds by adding boiling salted water all I did was place the curds in the microwave oven for 1 minute. I then kneaded the curds until they became one solid mass I poured off the excess whey and repeated the process two times more, kneading( with a little kosher salt) and stretching the curds each time. This allowed the curds to form strings ( as in string cheese).
What will I do with my cheese. I know it tastes wonderful by itself but I’m planning on making Lasagna this Sunday. Home made Mozzarella,home made Ricotta (yes I made some of that too!),home made pasta sheets and homemade meat sauce. This is going to be one delicious Lasagna!