mozzarella

This was my first attempt at making mozzarella cheese. I did this because I'm fascinated with rennet. I have seen what it does first hand by visiting Haystack Farm when they were still a small enterprise using their own goat milk and I've seen it plenty of times on TV but none of that is like actually doing it. All of the explanations go, "first you do this, then time goes by, then you do that, then this happens, then you do this." It's just not fully satisfying. Just two nights ago I saw it again on TV. When they introduced the segment I became suddenly alert and gave my full attention. The guy's assistant, his daughter, I think, brought a large amount of curd and the guy dumped it into exceedingly hot water, which basically cooks the curd until it can be stretched. Ta daaaaa. As if that's all there was to making mozzarella. No description at all of where the curd came from, or what happened to the whey. Can you imagine my disappointment bordering on disgust? That forces me to try it. And now that I've tried it, that forces me to try it again. That's how I am which I suppose could count as a character flaw. The thing is, homogenization completely ruins milk for cheese, so the trick is to buy milk that is not homogenized. But no manufacturer is going to advertise, "not homogenized." If the carton fails to say homogenized, that doesn't necessarily mean it is not. Mine did not work out exactly as described on Motherearthnews.com article titled How to Make Mozzarella Cheese: Whey Easier Than You Think. Groan. See what they did there?

I used 1/2 gallon instead of a gallon because I didn't want waste a whole gallon if I messed up. I used acetic acid instead of critic acid, because I think they are the same thing, although I could be wrong. Mine did not form a solid sheet of curd like the pictures show, and mine never became elastic. I put my finished balls in cold brine and they were much more dense than normal mozzarella. Mine never became elastic and stretchy like it was supposed to. Now that I know how rennet acts, I'll try to see if there's a difference between citric acid and acetic acid (vitamin C), and I'll try a different milk. I think if I buy milk from a local dairy I'll have a better chance of it not being homogenized and it will probably be pasteurized at a lower temperature because it's not expected to be transported for any great distance. That's my theory, and I'm stick'n with it. For now. Having said all that, it was fun to make and delicious.

This is probably a little bit like baking bread in that you have to learn by making a bunch of mistakes. At least I do anyway.

I hate throwing out all that whey which is a by product making mozzarella. I understand you can make ricotta from the whey but I don't know anything about that yet. Wouldn't that be cool? Ricotta is like cottage cheese except a lot better. It can be used in a lot of things.

The rennet tablet down there VVV is divided into four sections because supposedly you only use one fourth a tablet of rennet for a whole gallon of milk. My camera, brilliant thing, tried its best to make a picture out of a white pill on a white background, so it turned the background yellow. No amount of post-fiddling could fix that, save for straight-up Photoshopping. I used a fourth of a tablet for half a gallon and it barely worked, which mathematically is twice what instructions call for. My temperatures were spot on, so all this makes me think either my acid was wrong or my milk wasn't the best to use, even though it was the best milk you can buy commercially, and that bums me out a little bit but not enough to dissuade me from trying again. Plus, I can try other methods beside the easy method. So. I'm off to buy a less impressive milk to see what that does. If I can find non-homogenized goat's milk, I'll buy it. My first choice is raw water buffalo milk, but yeah, like that's gonna happen.

acetic acid and rennet
rennet tablet
curdled milk with rennet added
curdled milk with rennet added

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