Friday, November 21, 2008

The Big Cheese


OK...I know that I have asked a lot of you lately; making pasta from scratch, making your own pumpkin puree and making your own bread. And I know that this may way over the top, and that some of you are going to think that I am totally crazy, but...I make my own cheese. Although it sounds impressive, it is really not. It is quite simple actually. I started making my own cheese after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which details her life over the course of one year of eating locally. She and her family have pizza every Friday, like my family does. And so she took a weekend course on cheese making by Rikki Carroll (of New England Cheese Supply, where you can order all your cheese making ingredients), and began to make her own mozzarella cheese at home, with just a few simple necessities.

It takes about 30 minutes to make cheese from scratch. All you need is a gallon of whole, organic milk (NOT ultra-pasturized), some rennet (which I found at Whole Foods) and some citric acid (the same sour salt that is used on sour candies...I found it at another health store), a large pot and a thermometer and you are ready to go. Part science lab, part chef, your family (and you) will be so impressed with this new skill that you might just have to throw a party to show it off...after all, who makes their own cheese?

The recipe is simple (
mozzarella recipe); heat a gallon of milk until it is 55 degrees, add 1 1/2 t of citric acid dissolved in 1/4 C water. When the temperature reaches 88 degrees, add 1/4 t liquid rennet dissolved in 1/4 C water. When the milk reaches 100 degrees, it will be thickly curdled and pulling away from the sides of the pot.


The whey will be clear. Scoop out the curds into a microwaveable bowl and squeeze out excess whey. Microwave for 35 seconds and squeeze and repeat. Eventually you will have a pliable, stretchy mass of cheese that is ready to be salted and shaped.



It is so simple and so delicious.

The first time I made my own cheese, I held the two balls of fresh mozzarella in my hands and cried. It may not be quite an emotional experience for you as it was for me, but it is so fun, and so rewarding that I hope you all will try, at least once, to make your very own cheese.

13 comments:

doggybloggy said...

sounds good, I make a farmer cheese often - also called a paneer

Katie Barlow said...

wow, I have seen several posts now on making your own cheese. I must try this soon. Great blog!

Alison said...

doggybloggy: I have never made farmer cheese or paneer but I have an Indian girlfriend who does it all the time and has suggested it to me. She also makes homemade yogurt. Yum.

Katie: It really is so easy to make...the hardest part is tracking down the ingredients!

Nina Timm said...

I have cried about getting a certain recipe right after A LOT OF struggling, so I understand!!! You have me hooked, I am officially on the hunt for citric acid and rennet!

The Topiary Lady said...

I have wanted to make my own cheese for some time. I even have rennet sitting in my pantry, no citric acid though...
I get my milk at a local organic dairy, so it's raw.

This sounds easy. Thanks for breaking it down into easy steps for me.

www.thetopiarylady.blogspot.com

gaga said...

I've been wanting to make my own cheese for a while. It's good to see somebody actually do it, such an inspiration!

Rosko said...

where would one get rennet and citric acid?

Alison said...

I bought the rennet at Whole Foods. It was near the spice section. I bought the citric acid at another more "crunchy" health food store called Lassens. It was in the bulk spice area. Or you can order the cheese making supplies at www.cheesemaking.com (New England Cheese Supply). I hope that helps! :)

Heather said...

I have made the farmer's cheese before, but this was my first attempt at mozzarella. Needless to say, it was a disaster. :( Not sure what I did wrong, I followed directions to the letter... not to mention researching several other websites and devouring any tip I could find.
Does anyone know if curd formation is affected by altidude?
I will try again...oh yes, I will try again.

Alison said...

Heather,
I wonder if the milk you used was ultra pasturized? I'm not sure how altitude might be a factor, but I know that sometimes it takes longer to come to temperature than their directions indicate, so it takes longer to curdle. I'm sorry it didn't work and good luck next time!

Anne said...

Oh, but I'd have cried, too! What a beautiful thing to make. I just recently found that my great grandfather was a cheesemaker! How fun is that to include in a foodie family history? I've only made cheese from yogurt thus far (and does that really even count, anyway?) but I have definite plans to make the real deal - and soon!

Sean said...

So what's the alternative if you don't have a microwave? Is there a particular temperature you need to bring the cheese to?

Alison said...

Hi Sean,

A timely question since I am currently without a microwave as well. Use the pot of hot whey to return your cheese to temperature by dropping it in (and removing it again) with a slotted spoon. Good stretching temperature is about 175 degrees.

Best,
Alison