Homemade Mozzarella and Ricotta
This is adapted from a 30 minute recipe developed by Ricki of New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. You can purchase most of the ingredients locally or visit them at http://www.cheesemaking.com and order it.
Dissolve 1/4 to 1/2 of a rennet tablet in 1/4 cup of filtered water. More rennet makes a firmer cheese, less, a softer cheese.
Begin heating 1 gallon of milk to 105 degrees in a stainless steel pot (aluminum or cast iron are reactive). Use a VERY high quality milk since there is virtually nothing else to add flavor. I've used pasteurized and unpasteurized milks.
While heating the milk, sprinkle in 2 teaspoons citric acid powder. You can add lipase powder also if you want to add flavor to the milk, but the cheese will be softer and you will need the larger amount of rennet. At 88 degrees, the milk should begin to curdle. Add the rennet mixture and stir gently every few minutes until you reach the target temperature (105) and turn off the heat.
After sitting for a few minutes, you should be able to scoop out masses of curds and the whey should look relatively clear.
Separate the curds and whey and place the curds in a microwave safe bowl and squeeze out as much whey as you can with your hands. Work the cheese until it cools a little. I always use my hands, but you can use a spoon.
Heat the curds for 30 seconds or so in the microwave and repeat perhaps 2-3 times more, kneading much like you would knead your pizza dough or some taffy! I heat until the cheese it's almost too hot to touch and would burn my hands and try to use rubber gloves. Work it quickly. I often add a teason of cheese salt at this step. Cheese salt is just utra light and flaky and easy to dissolve salt.
This is where my wife comes in handy, as we switch off the kneading to prevent actually burning. My calloused hands handle this better.
If it actually stretches like taffy and is smooth a shiny, it is ready! You can twist it into a braid, work it into a ball (like pizza dough), or do as you like.
You don't even have to chill this lovely stuff, but if you aren't going to eat it immediately, you should refrigerate. I find that with experience, you make better and better cheese.
:D You would make ricotta by leaving out the rennet, using only citric acid, milk and salt and heating the milk to nearly boiling (195). You have to stir a lot, but as soon as the curds and whey separate, you turn off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes and then strain the curds out with a cheesecloth.
If you save the whey from either of these, you can use it to make pizza dough. Just use it in place of water or milk in your recipe and experiment a little.. it adds a TON of protein.
Tarik - what exactly is VERY high quality milk. Do you mean whole milk or something along the lines of half and half?
LMAO... depends on who you talk to... some people say it HAS to be organic and hormone free. Being a biologist and knowing as much about real chemistry as I do, I'm not of that persuasion, but quite frankly, organic, hormone free milk is often of higher quality, so that's what I purchase.
One thing I go by is taste. The milk should taste really good.
The ultimate key to high quality milk is freshness. You don't want something approaching it's expiration date, you want something that is as FRESH as possible.
I am able to purchase raw milk in my area, which HAS to be fresh. You can do this and pasteurize it yourself, or take the minute (but very real) risk of making cheese with fresh raw milk, but purchase and make cheese the SAME day.
In terms of fat content, that all depends on the type of cheese you want to make and is open to experimentation. I probably wouldn't ever use something directly like half and half, but I might use whole milk and cream, or just cream, or just whole milk, or skim milk, or....
The recipes on that web site above are basically specify whole or skim, etc..
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