Making My Own Mozzarella
This is the sixteenth change in my month-long pledge to give up plastics for Crunchy's Extreme Eco-Throwdown.
Have you read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle yet? If you haven't, you should. I read it this past month for Green Bean's Bookworm Challenge and I loved it! It is the story of one family eating locally for a year in southwestern Virginia. And one of the things Barbara did during that year was to learn how to make her own soft cheeses.
So I figured hey, if she can do it, so can I. You know, because I'm exactly like a well-known, published author with a homestead. Minus the "well-known", "published", "author" and "homestead" part. But back to the cheese...
Luckily, Barbara is not stingy with the details. She tells the reader exactly where she learned her craft and from whom - Ricki Carroll of New England Cheesemaking Supply. So I hopped online and ordered Ricki's "30 Minute Mozzarella and Ricotta Kit" for $24.95. I was so excited to get my package and start making my plastic-free mozzarella!
And then I opened the package. And found?
Do I even have to tell you?
A shitload of plastic. The rennet tablets come in those plastic/foil pouches, the thermometer is housed in a plastic sheath, and the citric acid comes in a plastic pouch, as does the salt. To top it off, the whole kit is then placed inside a ginormous plastic bag before being deposited in the nifty little cardboard carrying box. So much for plastic-free. But, it is a kit that will allow me to make up to 30 pounds of cheese, so hopefully that will be less than what is normally used to shrinkwrap my premade mozzie. And in the future I will be sure to order the ingredients individually so as to at least avoid the ginormous plastic bag.
Rant over, details begin here.
So this Memorial Weekend I gave it a shot. Sure as shit, about 45 minutes later (I'm a slow learner) I had turned a gallon of whole milk into a little over a pound of fresh mozzarella cheese! Basically, all I had to do was heat the milk on the stove, pour in some of the citric acid and rennet, wait for magic to occur (about 8 minutes), scoop out the curds, recite "Little Miss Muffet", squeeze out the whey, nuke the curds and pull them like taffy.
Really, it's easier than it sounds.
So we had homemade pizza that night (using my own dough, of course) and fresh basil from my deck. Can't wait for those tomatoes to ripen and I'll have a 10-foot meal! ;-) Well, kind of.
Anyhow, if you're thinking about trying this, it may not be everyday-easy, but it is a lot of fun. Be sure you have some heat resistant gloves to wear when you're pulling the cheese as it's pretty hot. Although I'd stay away from wool gloves, as they might add some texture you're not used to finding in mozzarella.
Just my $0.02.