Saturday, August 4, 2012

How to make homemade mozzarella cheese in about 1.5 hours!



I have been wanting to make home made cheese for as long as I can remember. I just finally did it! I had not been able to find rennet close to where I live and the prices online had discouraged me before, but in a recent trip to the Canary Islands, I found it! They have rennet there or cuajo as it is called in Spanish in every pharmacy. It looks like it is very common for people in the Canaries to make their own cheese. That was very lucky for me! I have been holding to my little bottle of rennet until today.

So no more waiting for you - Here is how to make mozzarella at home in about one hour and a half!

Ingredients:

1 gallon of milk
2 tsp citric acid
1 cc liquid rennet
1/4 cup of bottled water
Sea salt to taste

Equipment:

1 big pot enough to hold 1 gallon of milk (not made of aluminum)
2 glass bowls - a big one and a small one
1 cheese cloth
1 metal sieve
1 food thermometer
Cling film
Thread

Preparation:

Dissolve 1 tsp of citric acid in 1/4 cup of water.


Pour the gallon of milk in the pot and start heating it, stirring constantly to prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom.


Pour the dissolved citric acid and sprinkle another tsp of citric acid into the milk pretty soon, before it gets to 50F. You will noticed the milk will start to curdle a bit.


Continue heating and stirring until the milk reaches 90F. At this time, turn the heat off and put the rennet in the milk. Stir it for a few seconds to make sure it is distributed evenly. (if you are using rennet in a tablet or powder form. First dissolve it in a little water before you stir)


Cover the pot and let it rest for 20 to 25 minutes.

Check to see if the curd has formed. If you put your finger in the curd, it will separate cleanly and you will see clear whey to the side. At this point, cut the curd with a sharp knife making a grid (horizontal and vertical lines).

Heat the cut curds once more until it reaches about 100F - you will see the curds separating - stir a few times very gently. Turn the heat off.


Put a sieve over your big glass bowl and a double layer of cheese cloth over the sieve.


With a small sieve or a spoon with holes, start taking the curds from your pot and put them on top of your cheese cloth. Be gently and try not to break the curds too much.


Reserve the whey, you can make ricotta cheese with it and then drink it in milkshakes or soup. Much cheaper and healthier than the expensive whey protein powders!


Gently lift the four corners of your cheese cloth and make a little pouch. You will see the whey starting to pour out of the cloth. Gently squeeze until you get almost no liquid coming out of the pouch. Put your whey back in the pot for your ricotta!



Open the pouch, you will see that your curds have formed a ball of cheese (at this moment you have queso fresco).


Take your cheese ball and cut it into pieces with a knife and put the cut cheese in your small glass ball.


Here the fun begins, make mozzarella! The traditional way calls for boiling the whey and adding the cheese back to the whey and knead it and stretch it there. But I was not about to burn my hands. So we will do it the modern way - using the microwave.

Salt your cheese to taste if you want salted mozzarella. I put about 1.5 tsp of sea salt in mine (you can use regular salt). Put the bowl in the microwave for 1 minute. Take the cheese out of the microwave.
You will see how some whey has separated form the cheese, and the cheese starts to melt together.


With your hands squeeze the cheese until all the whey comes out (careful cheese is hot). Drain the whey. Put the cheese in the microwave again, this time for 30 seconds and repeat the squeezing and kneading. Do it one more time for 15 seconds.


At this point the cheese already looks like mozzarella and you can start kneading and stretching.



If the cheese gets too cold, put back in the microwave for 15 seconds and keep stretching. The more you knead the harder your final cheese will be. Once you are happy with the texture, you can form your cheese.

You have 2 options, make individual balls by hand, or do a ball braid.

To do individual balls. Take a bowl with salted cold water and put it at your side. Take the cheese in your hand and squeeze. Make a small ball with your thumb and index finger.



Drop the ball in the cold water so it retains its shape. Make as many balls as you can with the cheese. The balls will keep in the fridge in water for a week (replaced the water daily)


To make a ball braid, cut a long piece of cling film and set up flat on your table.


Stretch your mozzarella until you form a long roll. The diameter of the roll will determine the size of your balls (mine was small as I wanted mini balls of about 2 inches).



Make sure that there is extra cling film to the right of your roll as the cheese will squeeze to the right as you tight the balls. Roll the cheese into the cling film, making a sausage.

Cut a long thread, and with one of the ends, tight a knot on the left hand side of the cling film. Now you will start making the little balls. Hold the thread on top of the sausage at the length you want for your ball. While holding the top of the thread, put the other end under the sausage and thread it  under the one you are holding (making a knot). Tighten it. Repeat for the length of your cheese. Make a double knot at the end of your last ball.


You are done!!! Let the mozzarella cool down by putting it in cold water. -


It is ready to eat. It will keep nice and soft for about 12 hours. After that you will need to refrigerate - if it last that long!! I bet you will eat it all before that.

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