Homemade Mozzarella Cheese Cheese is one of those things that most people like, and many including myself adore. As children most of us were exposed to the basic cheeses (Or more aptly in some cases cheese food whatever that means!) like American sliced cheese, cheddar, mozzarella and maybe something like Swiss. Then as we grow older we become acquainted with more diverse cheeses like the family of blue cheeses, goat cheeses, feta, among others, but no matter what, as you read this you can probably think or your favorite or favorites right off the bat! My personal favorites are buttermilk blue, Chevre, Colby, buttermilk cheese and really good Cheddar.
Cheese has been around for a very long time. A book I have discusses how shepherds who had milk stored in sheep stomachs (I know kind of gross!) found that the rennet present in the stomach caused the milk to curdle and make cheese. From there cheese making was born and oh the cheeses that have been developed over the years!
Lately I’ve become very interested in the process of making cheese. Basically you are looking at a biological/chemical process involving bacteria. What’s better than learning a little science while you’re making food? In my process of researching the art of cheese making I came across the book by Ricki Carroll entitled Home Cheese Making, Recipes For 75 Homemade Cheeses and I’ve meant to buy it for about a year. Jamison finally bought the book for me for Christmas among other kitchen goodies that we’ll talk about in the future. After reading the book I discovered that Ricki has her own cheese making supply company as well as an Internet store called the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company.
While the process of cheese making might seem a bit daunting I was definitely interested in making some of my own. I purchased a few of the starter kits and some cheese wax from Ricki’s online store and decided to give mozzarella a try first, since it looked the least daunting. Ricki has a thirty minute mozzarella and ricotta cheese kit (and I’ll be making the ricotta soon. I’ll let you know how it turns out!) and I decided that would be just perfect to get started with.
To make mozzarella you need some basic ingredients. Obviously milk is the main ingredient because we’re talking cheese here. It’s also possible to make cheese with soy or rice milks, but for my experimentation initially I’m going to use dairy. After I get the hang of the process I want to try making rice cheese for Jamison, but that’s neither here nor there at the moment.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand, you’ll also need water that is not chlorinated, citric acid, powdered or liquid rennet and cheese salt, which is actually optional. The process of making mozzarella involves using a stainless steel pot, heating milk, adding rennet, dealing with curds, using your microwave, draining whey (You know curds and whey! ;)), kneading, more microwaving, more kneading, ultimately working the cheese into a ball, and ice bath and voila…you’ve got mozzarella cheese in thirty minutes!
The process is really easy and I ended up using skim milk from South Mountain Creamery instead of the full fat variety because I got the milk before I got the kit and it turned out great! The taste is amazing and it was really very easy to make. I was very impressed with the whole process and can’t wait to try it again! The cheese came together so wonderfully and it was a lot of fun playing with it during the kneading process. Next time I make it I think I’m going to add in some herbs.
If you’re interested in making your own cheeses I highly recommend Ricki’s book and her online store. Who knew making cheese was that easy and you know exactly what is in it because you made it! What’s better than that? Nothing! You can use the mozzarella to make pizza, lasagna, pasta, calzones or anything else you would normally use store bought mozzarella in. Up next goat cheese and then on to ricotta and cheddar!