1 gallon milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
1 1/4 cup cool water (chlorine-free)
1 1/2 tsp. citric acid
1/4 rennet tablet
1 tsp. cheese salt (optional) or Herbs de Provence!
Two years ago I read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" with the Partners Club Book Club. It is written by Barbara Kingsolver who normally writes fiction but wrote this book about her year long experiment of eating locally. It is a nonfiction book but FULL of interesting information. She challenged me to think about food in a new and different way. One of those ways pertains to cheese. Barbara has a daughter that is lactose intolerant and they discover that she can actually digest raw milk (not pasteurized) and the only way that she can eat cheese is if they make it at home. She describes her experiences "stretching and pulling" mozzarella cheese in her own kitchen. Being the cheese lover that I am, I found myself dreaming of stretching cheese! Barbara recommends The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. My friend Kristin and I ordered the same kit that she uses in the book and the rest is history! See the cheese that Kristin and I made together here.
This is what the kit looks like. It includes instructions and supplies for Mozzarella and Ricotta. It makes the whole process super easy!
Dissolve rennet tablet into cool water. Stir and set aside.
Mix citric acid into 1 cup cool water until dissolved and pour into pot.
Pour 1 gallon of milk into pot and stir stir stir while adding citric acid.
Heat the milk to 90 degrees Fahrenheit while stirring.
Remove the pot from the burner and slowly stir in the rennet solution with an up and down motion for 30 seconds.
Cover the pot and leave it undisturbed for 5 minutes.
Check the curd. It should look like custard with a clear separation between the curd and the whey. (Don't you love using those words in everyday life and not just with Miss Muffet?) Look how it pulls away from the side of the pot. This is some serious curd!
I LOVE when a recipe turns out perfectly!
Next cut the curd with a knife that reaches to the bottom of the pot.
Place the pot back on the stove and heat to 105 degrees while slowly moving the curds around with the spoon.
I am smitten! So stretchy. It did not do this when Kristin and I did it together. I cannot control my surprise and happiness. And I cannot stop snapping pictures of my cheese!
Pour off the floating whey and ladle the curds into a large microwavable bowl. Place the microwave for 1 minute. At this point you can put on rubber gloves if that is your style! There is no way that I am depriving my hands of this beautiful cheese. No gloves for me!
Remove and drain while gently folding the curds into one piece. Microwave for another 30 seconds and drain again. Stretch properly and add your salt and/or herbs and work into cheese.
Stretch the cheese until smooth and shiny. The more you work the cheese the firmer it will be. You can braid it, roll it into balls, form bite sized morsels or make it into string cheese.
Once you have your cheese creation formed, submerge it in ice water so that it will cool down and hold its shape. You can also roll it out into a log and add prosciutto or herbs to it.