Today was a great day. First of all, my cheese making supplies arrived in the mail. For a while I was paralyzed by happy indecision. What should I make first? Cream cheese was tempting, but the 12 hours of culturing it required meant that it needed to be started at night so I could work with it again in the morning. So I decided to jump right in and make mozzarella. Then I realized I could make ricotta out of the whey leftover from the mozzarella and that got added to the list, too.
For some reason there hasn't been nearly as much clamoring to hear about every detail of my cheese making adventures as I would've expected- but never mind. I've never let a lack of expressed interest stop me from sharing before! Here is what I did today. All told it took me about an hour and a half, including draining the ricotta, which was pretty hands off.
First, I poured a gallon of milk into a big pot and heated it just a bit, to 55 degrees. Then I added some citric acid dissolved in a little water and heated the milk to 88 degrees. This curdled the milk a bit, but not enough for me to get a good picture of it. Next I added rennet dissolved in water and continued heating to 105 degrees. I was pretty nervous about this part because chlorine will inhibit the action of the rennet, and while we filter our water I wasn't sure how much of the chlorine was actually getting out. Turns out I needn't have worried, as the milk began to thicken and the why and curds started to separate.
So I scooped out the curds and put them in a big microwaveable bowl. I pressed out as much whey as I could and poured it off.
The I heated the curds and kneaded them a bunch of times, until they came together and started getting stretchy. I don't think I kneaded them enough, in retrospect. Next time!
In the end I had this pleasing little lump of mozzarella- about one pound. I think it looks remarkably like a plucked chicken in this picture!
Mozzarella done I turned to the ricotta. Heated the whey to 200 degrees and added some apple cider vinegar. Poured all of it into a sieve lined with butter muslin and let it drain.
Voila! Ricotta. This, I feel, was an unqualified success.
To celebrate my cheesemaking skillz I decided to make a quicky lasagna. Just for kicks, here's what my mozzarella looked like after I shredded it.
Like real cheese, right???