Books that inspire me to learn and experience new things make me happy. My latest read is Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven Hopp and Camille Kingsolver. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, this book (released May 2007) tells the story of a family was changed by one year of deliberately eating food produced in the place where they live. Barbara wrote the central narrative; Steven's sidebars dig deeper into various aspects of food-production science and industry; Camille's brief essays offer a nineteen-year-old's perspective on the local-food project, plus nutritional information, meal plans and recipes.
One of Camille's entries talks about the ease of making Mozzarella cheese. Hmmm.... I called Jeffery immediately to discuss. Could we do it? I mean... can we really make our own cheese? We had to find out. So we logged on to New Enlgand Cheese Making Supply Company and ordered rennet, citric acid and a dairy thermometer. Those three tools plus a gallon of milk and about a 1/2 hour is really all that you need. You can find the recipe here, but I have also included it below.
Keep in mind that there is animal rennet and vegetable rennet. We used animal rennet in our cheese, but you can also use vegetable rennet if you are vegetarian.
When the cheese was all done we made a pizz with heirloom tomatoes, our cheese, grated parmeggiano reggiano cheese, olive oil and salt and pepper. The dough was purchased from one of my favorite pizza joints in the Castro, Marcello's.
Recipe for mozzarella cheese:
Measure out additives before you start, in clean glass or ceramic cups. Use unchlorinated water.
- 1 gallon pasteurized milk (NOT ultra-pasteurized)
- 1 1/2 level tsp. citric acid dissolved in ¼ cup cool water
- Stir the milk on the stove in a stainless steel kettle, heating very gently. At 55°add the citric acid solution and mix thoroughly. At 88° it should begin to curdle.
- ¼ tsp. liquid rennet diluted in ¼ cup cool water
Gently stir in diluted rennet with up-and-down motion, and continue heating the milk to just over 100°, then turn off heat. Curds should be pulling away from sides of pot, ready to scoop out. The whey should be clear. (If it’s still milky, wait a few minutes.) Use a slotted spoon to move curds from pot to a 2 quart microwaveable bowl. Press curds gently with hands to remove as much whey as possible.
Microwave the curds on high for one minute, then knead the cheese again with hands or a spoon to remove more whey. (Rubber gloves help – this gets hot!) Microwave two more times (about 35 seconds each) kneading between each heating. At this point, salt the cheese to taste, then knead and pull until it’s smooth and elastic. When you can stretch it into ropes like taffy you are done. If the curds break instead, they need to be reheated a bit. Once cheese is smooth and shiny, roll it into small balls to eat warm or store for later in the refrigerator.