Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cutting the Cheese

Summer's here, and yes, I've been spending all of my time these days with my 2 boys, who are out of school for the summer. And, well, anyone who's raised boys knows that "cutting the cheese" is one of their favorite subjects (sigh).

I thought I'd share another type of cheese cutting with you though. A much nicer one. Anyone who knows me well knows that I enjoy the "science" behind food. Maybe it's the many years spent in a lab, or just my interest in what's actually in my food, and how it's made, but anytime I read an article about how food is made, I feel compelled to try it. I have made bread and yogurt, roasted coffee, brewed beer, canned all sorts of fruit and vegetables, and yes, made cheese.

A fellow lab-worker introduced me to cheese making after I sampled some of her home made cheese at work. She told me about The New England Cheese Making Supply Company, and soon I was making my own cheese (and cutting it). In our recent move, I tossed out all of my perishable supplies, but at the urging of my kids, I just ordered a new batch of rennet so that I can once again make cheese.

When I started, I ordered a "30 minute mozzarella kit" from the company, and yep, sure enough, it really only takes about 30 minutes to make some amazing fresh cheese right in my own kitchen. I start by heating up a gallon of whole milk on the stove top with some citric acid.

As the milk warms, it starts to curdle. At a certain temperature you add the rennet and continue heating to 100 F. After a few minutes, the curds really start separating from the whey (ala Little Miss Muffet).

The curds are then strained away from the whey (or vice versa?).

There's a few additional heating steps done in a microwave oven. By then the cheese starts to get shiny and stretchy. Kneading, along with the addition of a little salt finishes up the process.

Now it's time to eat, and believe me, this first batch didn't last more than 15 minutes!

Fresh mozzarella is a wonderful treat, is easy to make, and can be much cheaper than buying it at the store. Give it a try!!!


Beth said...

Thanks for the 'cheese making' info!!!! I am going to miss fresh mozzarella, but not anymore. As soon as my kitchen arrives I'm going to make some. Going to miss some other cheeses too... swills, really sharp cheddar, colby, longhorn and jack!!! Not sure I have the time to learn to make all of these... but the New England Cheese Making Supply Co. in in my bookmarks.

Beth-Near Chicago

Becky said...

Cool! They sell a book that tells how to make tons of cheese. This summer I'm going to try to make a few different recipes. Some of them though require presses and cultures, but they sell all of that too :-). You'll have to report about the local S African cuisine once you get there!

Pam said...

Very interesting and a must try! Bet it is great! I'm new here and really like your blog. I grew up in L'ville also.

Becky said...

Thanks! Hubby wants me to try feta cheese. I'd love to give it a try too. Maybe soon... And Louisville is a wonderful city! I was only there 3-4 years, but loved it!