Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Homemade Cheese

My oldest two sons asked for a cheesemaking kit for Christmas and they got it. Yesterday we tried it out. The kit's 30 Minute Mozzarella recipe sounded just perfect since we plan to make homemade pizza today. So the kids got right to it (that's them in the pictures) and I hovered and took pictures and generally got in the way.

Here are all the ingredients/supplies:

First we added 1/4 tablet of rennet to 1/4 cup cool water and 1 1/2 tsp. citric acid to 1 cup cool water. We put a gallon of milk into a large pot and added the citric acid mixture to it.

We heated the milk to 90 degrees F, removed it from the heat and added the rennet solution, mixing it for 30 seconds. After covering the pot and leaving it for five minutes we checked the curd. It needed a couple more minutes.

Then we cut the curd with a knife, heated the milk again to 105 degrees F while moving the curds around with a spoon (perhaps a bit too vigorously). We took it off the heat, stirred some more and poured off the whey.

We ladled the curds into a microwavable bowl. Looks good, doesn't it?

We microwaved it for a minute, poured off the whey, folded the curds together.

We microwaved it again for 30 seconds and tried to stretch the curds. Uh oh. The curds didn't stretch. In fact, they were downright soft. So we microwaved it for an additional 30 seconds. And then another 30 seconds.


Here's what we ended up with:

The boys were disappointed. I was disappointed. For a moment I wanted to cry.

But then I remembered all the leaden, half-burnt loaves of bread I made before I got one that turned out light and fluffy. "We'll have to try again," I told the boys. "We have to figure out the right combinations for our milk, our pots, our stove and microwave. Eventually we'll get better."

The good news is that our cheese mush tastes great - kind of like ricotta. And as my son pointed out, we can still use it on our pizza today - we just won't have to grate it!

I love my kids.

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