Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cheesemaking ... Mozzarella

I love good cheese. Getting it here is difficult, at best. So, I decided to learn how to make cheese myself.

I've made a sour cream-like substance for a while now. But, I wanted to get more serious ... step up to real cheeses. With my discovery of an actual dairy where I could purchase cow's milk that hadn't been destroyed by the ravages of heat, my hopes grew.

Ingredients
  • 4 liters cow's milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons citric acid
  • 1/2 rennet tablet
  • 3/4 cup water
Procedure

I poured all of the delicious white liquid into my stew pot. Four liters of white gold.


I put it all over a low flame.


While the milk was heating up, I prepared the citric acid. I mixed the 1-1/2 teaspoons of citric acid with 1/2 cup of cold water. I stirred a lot to ensure that it was completely dissolved.


I waited impatiently for the milk to warm up to 90F (32C). I used my nifty space-age infrared thermometer. This thing is perfect for cheesemaking!

90F (32C) is the temperature at which I'll add the rennet. While waiting, I dropped the half rennet tablet into a glass with 1/4 cup of cold water. Again, like the citric acid, I mixed very well.


At 90F (32C) I added the rennet. I stirred well ensuring to stir up-and-down in the pot to get complete coverage.

I heated the batch up to 105F (40C). The recipe said that in three-to-five minutes I'd see curds. It didn't, so I added the other half of the rennet tablet.

That resulted in a pot that was almost completely coagulated. Oops.

I managed to fix the problem. I cut the curds and continue to maintain the heat at 105F (40C). The curds shrunk as they expelled their whey. Saved!



Once I'd cooked down the curds well, I dumped the whole pot through a metal strainer. I took out the curds and put them into a two quart microwave-safe bowl.

As per the recipe's instructions (this is from a book that I have, review coming later), I nuked the curds for a minute. Then, I kneaded the curds ... when they got cool, I nuked again for 30 seconds. Knead, nuke, repeat. Finally, I got to a point that I liked with the consistency.

Let me tell you, kneading hot cheese is not exactly a pleasant task. Ouch! Still, it was worth it.

I rolled up the curds like a ball of bread dough, bringing the edges in under and pushing up from inside.

The result? The lovely picture you see at the top of this post. I'm so proud!

Test Results

Primary Test Group: Tastes good. A little more salt would be nice.

Test Group C: Was confused about the cheese until I explained that it wasn't like Cheddar. It's intended to be melted on a pizza. Commented that the cheese needed more salt.

Test Group J: Unfortunately, they were in Cebu when I made the cheese. So, no feedback here.

Test Group M: "It tastes like mozzarella."

Potential Improvements

More salt. More kneading. Less rennet.

Potential Variations

This was the 30-minute method. It's really more like the Hour-or-Two Method. Still, the results are nice.

I want to try the traditional method for making mozzarella. The kind you see the Italian grandmothers do in delis.

Conclusions

I did it! I made my own mozzarella! I am so pleased.

I ended up using far too much rennet. So, no ricotta from this batch. In the future, I'll get better.

Still, P288 worth of milk (P72 per liter once we include the cost of diesel) made 550 grams of mozzarella. Here, mozzarella comes in 250 gram blocks for P240-to-P250. So, we got P530 worth of good mozz out of P288! If I back off on the rennet, I should get some ricotta, too!

The best thing is, I don't have to worry about when the stores will have the mozzarella in stock. I'm in control.

I like control ...

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where did you get rennet from? I am planning on making mozzarella. thanks!

James said...

I bought mine at the local grocery store. Online you can go to cheesemaking.com. They have a good selection of many things.

I've read that the rennet I have (Junket brand) is not ideal for cheese making. I've had good luck with it.

Good luck!

------- said...

You can buy rennet from local groceries? Is this available in SM or do I have to find specialty stores? In what section of the grocery can you find this? How about the Citric acid? Thanks!

Marc Ngo said...

I'm not certain where to get citric acid and rennet though in tacloban city