Monday, January 4, 2010

Cheesemaking Experiment

My parents gave me a cheesemaking kit for Christmas (thanks Dad and Mom!) that I've been itching to try out since I opened it! Yesterday I had some time to spare so I declared it cheesemaking day and set to work :)

I used a gallon of milk that we would normally drink in our household: Plain ole' store bought 2%. The instructions specifically said that milk that had been ultra pasteurized would not work, but the labeling on my milk said it was only 'pasteurized'. The kit is pretty simple and instructions clear cut, nice for a beginner like me! I added my citric acid to the milk and then heated according to direction.
Once the adequate temperature was reached, I added my rennet, which was a tablet dissolved in a small amount of water. After sitting for several minutes I began to see a separation of the
curds from the whey! And that's where my trouble began...

Although there was a distinct separation of the curds from the whey, the curds didn't seem to firm up quite as much as the directions said it should. My next step was to cut up the curd and reheat, while stirring, to further separate. Afterward I drained the majority of the whey and opted to use the microwave to heat up the curds to 135 degrees to begin the stretching/shaping process.

End verdict: My curds never really firmed up, resulting in more of a ricotta-like texture instead of mozzarella (although it was still quite tasty!!!) Troubleshooting directions suggested that I should possibly use more citric acid than the recipe originally called for, or choose a different kind of milk. My next door neighbor is a co-owner of a dairy near us, so maybe I can get some milk from him. Can't go wrong with milk straight from the source! And there's no way I could convince Tom to milk a cow twice a day when I'm working!

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