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Posted on Friday 10 April 2009 at 11:31 am

Adventures in Cheese Making

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My friends Jack and Andrew like to brew beer. I don't drink beer, but I've helped them brew on several occasions because it is fun and interesting. Not to mention that there are long intervals where you don't have to do anything and we use that time to play Mario Kart. We decided that we needed to expand our homemade repertoire and invested in a cheese-making kit. This kit provides directions and almost all necessary ingredients (milk being the major exception) and specialized materials necessary to make a dozen or so cheeses. We started with the easiest, a supposed one-hour mozzarella. I swear we did everything right! We measured exactly, we kept a careful eye on the temperatures, etc. The curds (white chunky bits) and whey (greenish liquid) separated nicely and everything was going fine at first. The guide book offered two different ways to complete the final steps: microwave and nonmicrowave. We decided to try the nonmicrowave method. This essentially required that we add special salt to the whey, dip balls of curd in the whey, knead the balls of curd, and repeat until we got something that resembled balls of mozzarella cheese. This was supposed to take four or five dips per ball. After a few dozen dips, about half the curd was beginning to vaguely resemble cheese. At that point we broke down and I finished up the other half using the microwave method while the fellas kept at the nonmicrowave method. In the end, all the cheese came out tasting like mozzarella and should be perfectly eatable, but none of it has quite the right texture. Oh well. The plan is to shred it and melt it on a homemade pizza tonight so hopefully the texture won't matter too much.

The really disappointing part of all this is that we were going to make a ricotta cheese as well. Ricotta has to be made from the leftover whey from another cheese, so we figured we'd use the mozzarella whey and when done would have almost all the cheeses necessary for a white pizza. Yummy! The one-hour mozzarella took more like three hours so we were tired but we went ahead with the ricotta. It didn't work at all. The curds and whey wouldn't separate the second time. My best guess is that using the microwave method for the mozzarella would have meant never adding salt to the mozzarella whey; since we tried the nonmicrowave method, we added salt and I think that might have prevented the curds and whey from separating for the ricotta. Either that or we took too long with the mozzarella and the whey wasn't fresh enough to reuse. End result: decent mozzarella and no ricotta but we learned a lot so that when we try it again I think it will work much better and go much quicker.

I'll let y'all know how the pizza tastes tonight!


lady_bracknell at 4:35 pm on 10 April 2009 (UTC) (Link)
I didn't know you could get make your own cheese kits, but I have to say it sounds like the most awesome thing ever.
bratty_jedi at 4:53 pm on 10 April 2009 (UTC) (Link)
It is pretty cool. We got our kit at Leeners.com, where one can apparently buy a kit for making almost anything. I'm sure you could find something more local so S&H wouldn't be an arm and a leg.
What's Taters, Precious?
mrstater at 5:07 pm on 10 April 2009 (UTC) (Link)
Have you ever tried one of those brew your own beer kits from Wal Mart?
bratty_jedi at 5:20 pm on 10 April 2009 (UTC) (Link)
Nope. They've used kits, thus far, but the kits are more complex than the Wal Mart ones. They've done four or five different brews, I think, and are seriously debating moving away from kits and starting to play with recipes and try to make their own.
godricgal at 5:20 pm on 10 April 2009 (UTC) (Link)
That sounds like a lot of fun and I'm pretty impressed that you've made your own mozzarella. I hope your pizza is yummy!
bratty_jedi at 5:20 pm on 10 April 2009 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Here's hoping.
littlepixiechic at 9:27 pm on 10 April 2009 (UTC) (Link)
You guys are so awesome. I hope that pizza tastes great!

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