Friday, June 15, 2007
You can't see my face but trust me when I tell you there is a grin that is stretched across from ear-bone to ear-bone. The inspiration for such delight lies in the successful production of (Yay!) my very first batch of genuine, authentic, for real mozzarella.
I have yet to find a source of fresh whole milk so I fell back on dried milk laced with a couple of cups of half and half cream. As you can see, it worked like a champ.
There was a bit of time there when I thought the whole process was going to be another disaster, though. I was convinced there was no way those loose curds were going to meld together to form the cheese. Not possible. Uh-uh. Any fool could see that. More out of desperate stubborness than any real hope, I kept working the curds as directed, pressing out the excess whey and kneading the bits and pieces ever more closely together.
Then came the fun part. The curds went into the microwave for a minute and came out for some more whey separation and kneading. Then back for 35 seconds. Less whey this time and the texture was starting to come together like real cheese. I kneaded in the salt and put it back in the microwave for a last 35 second session and pulled it out.
Hot damn! I mean, it really was hot. Almost too hot to handle. But this was the stage where the cheese started stretching like taffy and I wasn't about to miss out on the fun of that. Muttering, "Ow, ow, owie," I wiggled the cheese and let it stretch from its own weight, then doubled it back and wiggled it some more. Almost before I knew it, the mass had turned smooth and shiny and ready to shape. It was magical. Astonishing.
I must confess that I gobbled up a couple of slices before I thought to weigh the durned thang so I can't tell you for sure what I ended up with. When I put what was left on the scale, there was almost 10 ounces so I figure I must have gleaned maybe 12 ounces of mozzarella out of the gallon of milk. Not too bad. I get the impression that the amount of cheese you end up with has to do with the quality of the milk, itself, but I don't know.
If you're at all interested in seeing the process from start to finish, you can go here at the web site for the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. They are wonderful folks with whom to do bidness, let me tell you. That's where I got my mozzerella kit.
Another excellent source for information and supplies for home cheesemaking is Leener's. They have kits for all kinds of things but if you go to their cheesemaking section, you can view a video of a fellow making mozzarella.
You know what I'm thinking about right this minute? I'm thinking I ought to smack myself for not picking up some tomatoes at the store today. I am picturing a slice of homemade bread with a layer of sliced 'maters, sprinkled with some minced basil and drizzled with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, then a layer of the fresh mozzarella and a brief session under the broiler. Ahhhhhh ... it's on my To Do list for tomorrow, that's what.