Well hello friends. Hope you had a nice relaxing long weekend. We had a stormy one, which means indoor fun. And that indoor fun just so happened in the kitchen. I'm starting up a new whole foods column for my cooking adventures, starting with my favorite: cheese! My dear friend, Melanie, gave me an Italian cheese-making kit for my birthday and I was finally able to put it to use.
My mom is an experienced cheese-maker and in the last few years, I've watched her play with curds and whey, experimenting with a vast assortment of exotic cheeses. It's definitely one of those things that gets better with practice. Many things can go wrong and they probably will. So I suggest starting with a simple cheese in the beginning, like mozzarella. Plus, it doesn't need to age. Instant gratification!
Here are the basic steps...
- 1 gallon of raw or unhomogenized whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
- 2 tsp citric acid dissolved in a ¼ cup of cool distilled water
- ½ vegetarian rennet tablet dissolved in a ¼ cup of cool distilled water
- 2 ml of calcium chloride (optional: some say this helps if using store-bought milk)
- Salt to taste
- 5 to 10 ice cubes
- Steralize all equipment with boiling water before use.
- Poor milk into a large pot.
- Stir in diluted citric acid (and optional calcium chloride) into cold milk.
- Heat slowly to 90˚F (32˚C), stirring gently.
- Take pot off burner, stir in diluted rennet, and let sit for 30 minutes.
- When solid, gently cut curds with a long knife into 1 inch cubes (should make a clean cut).
- Put pot back on stove and slowly heat curds to 90˚F (42˚C).
- Take pot off burner & prepare two bowls of water: one boiling, one cold w/ ice cubes & salt.
- Using a slotted spoon, separate the curds from whey into a cheese cloth lined colander.
- Scoop curds and submerge them in the hot water bowl (or you can microwave for 1 min).
- FUN PART: Stretch and kneed curds with your hands until it has a smooth elastic texture.
- Form curds into balls and place them in ice water bath for 10 min before eating. Or eat hot!
There is nothing better than a caprese salad with your own homemade Bocconcini. I mixed them in with yellow cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, lemon olive oil, salt and lots of black pepper.
Here are 3 cheese-making kits I recommend for your very first batch, all of which I've personally used or gifted to others: