Love in the Kitchen - making fast, healthy, homegrown meals you'll enjoy

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Homemade Cheeses - Mozzarella and Ricotta

The Mr and I watch "The Next Food Network Star" on the Food Network.  A week or so ago, we watched an episode where one of the contestants made his own mozzarella.

Later that week, I was making dinner and The Mr. asked if I had made the cheese for the recipe.


Now I had to make it.

Because that's the way I am.

This time?  So worth the effort!  Doesn't it look delicious?

And it melts wonderfully!

Here are the recipes for both cheeses.  It took about 90 minutes in total, during which time I was also making the rest of the dinner.

Fresh Mozzarella
-- 1/4 tablet rennet
-- 1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
-- 1 gallon milk 
The Milk:
Make sure the milk you use for this cheese is NOT ULTRA- PASTEURIZED
--Homogenized milk will work fine.
--Low fat milk will work but the cheese will be drier and less flavorful 
You will also need:
--A 6 to 8 quart stainless steel pot. Aluminum or cast iron will not work.
--A stainless steel or strong plastic slotted spoon.
--A two quart microwave safe mixing bowl
--measuring spoons
--A thermometer which will clearly read between 80 - 120 degrees F.

  1. Crush 1/4 tablet of rennet and dissolve in 1/4 cup of cool,  unchlorinated water and set aside to use later.
  2. Add 1.5 tsp. of citric acid, diluted in 1 cup cool water, to  1 gallon of cold milk and stir well. 
  3. Heat this milk to 90F. As you approach 90F, you may notice your milk beginning to curdle slightly due to acidity and temp.  (NOTE: If having problems with milk forming a proper curd, you may need to increase this temp to 95 or even 100F.)
  4. At 90F,  remove the pot from the burner and slowly add your rennet to the milk. Stir in a top to bottom motion for approx. 30 seconds, then stop.  Cover the pot and leave undisturbed for 5 minutes.
  5. Check the curd, it will look like custard, with a clear separation between the curds and whey. If too soft or the whey is milky, let set for a few more minutes.
  6. Cut the curds into a 1" checkerboard pattern and, if a drier  cheese is desired, carefully cut and stir this curd to release more whey. 
  7. Place the pot back on the stove and heat to 105F, while slowly stirring the curds with your ladle.  
  8. Take off the burner and continue slowly stirring for 2-5 minutes. (More time will make a firmer cheese)
  9. With a slotted spoon, scoop curds into a microwave safe bowl. (If the curd is too soft at this point let sit for another minute or so.)
  10. You will now press this curd gently with your hand, pouring off as much whey as possible. Reserve this whey to use in cooking.
  11. Next, microwave the curd on high for 45 seconds to 1 minute. You will notice more whey has run out of the curd. Drain off all whey as you did before. Quickly work the cheese with a spoon or your hands until it is cool enough to touch (rubber gloves will help since the cheese is almost too hot to touch at this point.)
  12. Microwave 2 more times for 35 seconds each, and repeat the kneading as in the last step. Drain off all of the whey as you go.
  13. Knead quickly as you would bread dough until it is smooth and shiny. Add salt to taste near the finish.
  14. At this point the cheese should be soft and pliable enough to stretch like taffy.
  15. It is ready to eat when it cools. 
  16. Form it into a ball and drop into ice water to cool and refrigerate. 
  17. When cold you can wrap in plastic wrap and it will last for several days, but is best when eaten fresh.

I melted a slice of this on our grilled chicken tonight, added some ricotta that I had mixed with fresh basil from the garden and topped with a little spicy tomato sauce.  Delicious!

And to use the leftover whey?  Here's the recipe for ricotta!  There are recipes out there to make Ricotta from milk, but this lets you get everything possible out of that gallon you used for the Mozzarella.

Ricotta from Leftover Whey 
Things you will need:
1. Leftover Whey
2. Large bowl
3. Reusable coffee filter. You can also use a clean cloth.
4. Large Strainer that you used for the Mozzarella
5. Small bowl to put the final product in

Step 1 - Heat the Whey
Pour the Whey back into your pot and heat back up to from 200 degrees to boiling. The temperature here is not critical and you don't have to do it slow. Just be VERY careful not to let it boil over. It WILL make a mess. 
Turn the heat off and let it cool down some. After a little while, if there is stuff floating on top stir it so that it sinks to the bottom. This will help later so you can just strain most of the liquid and it won't clog up the filter so fast.

Step 2 - Strain the Whey
Once the Whey has cooled down to 140 degrees or less, either use a ladle or pour your Whey through the coffee filter. 
Most of the Ricotta is at the bottom of the pot so pour slowly and do not shake up the pot and you should be able to pour most of the Whey through. If the filter gets full just transfer it into another bowl for now, rinse the filter and continue pouring the Whey through until finished.
Once the Whey is drained it can be thrown out, used in soups, used to feed animals, used to water plants etc. Didn't know you could get so much out of a gallon of milk did you?  This step can also be done with a clean cloth. When it fills up, just grab up the 4 corners with one hand and squeeze the Whey out with the other hand. Continue to strain.

Step 3 - Drain
Once you pour it all back into the filter just let it drain for a while until all the liquid is out of it. It could take a while depending on the size of the holes in the filter.

Step 4 - That's It!
There it is. Told you it was easy. Try it. It should have a slightly sweet taste and boy is it good.
These cheeses were really easy to make and totally worth the effort.  I'll take more pictures next time.  It actually went pretty quickly and I didn't get a chance to take pictures along the way (or along the whey?).

Have you ever tried to make homemade cheese?

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1 comment:

  1. We need to do this again at our house.... Lately, we've been making kefir, which is another interesting way to use milk.