ru: (food)
[personal profile] ru
So. I made cheese. I think.

Thanks to a certain Sage, I was pointed in the direction of a website on how to make mozzarella. Now, I am a bona fide cheese lover, and mozzarella is my favorite. I quickly realized that at least ATTEMPTING this recipe was in my near future.

First was gathering all the things. I needed a proper pot, which required going to the local not-quite-kitcshy-but-kinda-is housewares store, where they had oodles of graniteware (including a 32qt pot!), and I was able to find a suitable nonreactive pot. Also tricksy was finding a candy thermometer (really harder than it should have been. I should have just gone to the grocery store in the first place instead of running all over the place) and rennet. I found Junket rennet tablets at the local Whole Foods, and only after consulting the recipe again did I realize that it's actually subprime for making cheese. However, that can be compensated by adding 1-2 tablets (I added 2 in the end, just to be safe).

And after getting some citric acid and a GALLON of milk, I was ready to make me some cheese!





Did I mention it was a GALLON of milk? It's a bloody lot of milk.

After heating up the milk with citric acid to the right temperature, I took the pot off and added the rennet, and set up for a nailbiting five minutes wherein I wondered if this was actually going to work or not. When I took the lid off and found that it was still kinda runny, I put the lid back on for five minutes, also involving more nailbiting and images of throwing out a potful of goopy, runny curds because they wouldn't gel together and I would be SAD.

So after my timer went off I tapped the top with a wooden spoon, and seemed to encounter a decent amount of resistance, so it was time for the moment of truth, cutting the curds.



LOOKIT THE CUT CURDS. :D This was the moment that I realized that this might actually work!

So after more stirring and heating it was time to separate the curds from the whey.



I think this was the most tedious part, because it was a bit like trying to catch egg whites in soup, and those suckers did not want to leave their happy warm pot of happiness. I think next time I'll drain off a bit of the whey before I go fishing, because there was so much whey I think it got in the way of actually finding all the curds. I think using a different slotted spoon might also help, one with smaller holes.

After heating the curds in the microwave, then draining. Then draining. Then draining some more. I ended up with a bowl full of curds that looked a bit like this:



Kinda looks like cottage cheese at this stage.

Then once it was up to temperature, it was time for the stretching bit, and here's where things get dicey, I think. I'm not entirely sure if I managed to work the curds enough to get to the stage where they will be, you know, delicious cheese. On one hand, the recipe says to be careful to not overwork the curds. At the same time, I'm not sure if I worked them enough.



I mean, it's a coherent mass. At the same time, it seemed reluctant to hold its shape, kind of like dough that's a bit too wet. I'm not sure if I needed to stretch it more, because it was also reluctant to fold into itself, or if this is just how it is at this point. It might be because it was still kinda warm, but I dunno.

Ultimately, the real question will be, "Is it tasty cheese?" And that will be answered tomorrow, as I'm going to be bringing it to a family get together so I have lots of guinea pigs. I think next time I'll use 2% instead of 1% milk, as I think that might be a bit easier to work with, having a bit more fat to keep things together. If nothing else, this is all a place to start! :D

I will say this, though, which is that it took a LOT longer than the recipe calls for, between the fishing of curds and the waiting for things to get up to temp. Again, might be alleviated with practice. <3

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