Saturday, September 6, 2008

Cheesemaking Beginning

Recently, I began looking into making my own cheese. Seems like a lot of effort at first. But, the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of controlling the process, the ingredients, etc. So, I ordered a few ingredients and a good book ... but that's another post.

I have the supplies to potentially make some mozzarella. A very simple cheese to make. It only requires milk, citric acid, and rennet. You can add salt, but I'm not going to. I'll add more salt to whatever I cook if I feel that the salt is required.

See that little beige-colored ball on the right? That's the cheese that I managed to produce. A whopping 84 grams!

Seems small? Yeah, it is. I was hoping for 350-400 grams of cheese.

Disappointing? Sure. Surprising? No.

See, I'm using powdered milk as my base. Not exactly the fresh lightly pasteurized milk that cheese really wants to start with.

I followed the instructions to the letter (except the part about starting with 55F (12C) milk ... since I was using room temperature water and milk powder. This means the milk started at 82F (28C) today.

Then, the instructions said to wait until the whey was clear when making the cheese. I waited the stated amount of time. The instructions said if the whey looked a little milky to wait a few more minutes. Well, the whey didn't look milky ... it looked like milk.

So, we seem to have a bit of a problem in the curdling process ... the whey and the curds are just too attached to each other. Likely, I need to use more rennet. Rennet is a culinary pry-bar for milk. It helps the milk solids (curds) separate from the liquids (whey).

Now, beyond the whole separation issue, my little ball of cheese didn't want to behave at first. The instructions called for a little kneading to get it to a smooth and creaming consistency. Honestly, it never reached that point. But, it got close.

I stopped before getting to the final stage because I figured there was no point. There was so very little cheese ... things just hadn't gone quite right.

I still have the ball in the fridge. I'm going to see if it'll shred like a good mozz. I'm hoping so.

Either way, I'm eating it. All issues aside ... it tasted good.

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