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!!!