Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rosie Attempts Mozzarella But Ends Up With Ricotta.

Quite some time ago, I attempted, successfully, to make paneer, an Indian cheese. You can read about it here. With that success under my belt, I was hungry for more. I wanted Mozzarella. I'd seen Tyler Florence do it on Food Network and watched him pull that beautiful elastic cheese like taffy and I knew I would have to do it too. Only not today.
I ordered this cheesemaking kit from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company and began my journey to fabulous, homemade Mozzarella.
First I dissolved 1/4 rennet tablet in 1/4 cup cool, chlorine-free water.
And I must say,
rennet sounds fabulous.
I dissolved 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid in 1 cup cool,
chlorine-free water ...
... and poured that into my gallon of NON-Ultra Pasteurized milk, stirring vigorously.
And I heated the milk to 90 degrees while stirring.
I removed the pot of milk from the burner and slowly stirred in the rennet solution with an up and down motion for 30 seconds, as instructed. Then I covered the pot and left it undisturbed for 5 minutes. When I came back to check on it, by golly I had a custard-like curd. For my next step, I took a long knife that reached to the bottom of the pot and cut the curd vertically and horizontally.
Lookee. Cubes of curds!
I'm very excited at this point since everything seems to be working.
Next I placed the pot back on the burner and heated to 110 degrees while slowly moving the curds around with my spoon.
"Take off the burner and continue slowly stirring for 2-5 minutes. (More time will make a firmer cheese.)"
My pretty curd cubes have been reduced to ... ricotta.
Next I heated a pot of water to 185 degrees, ladled my curds into a colander, and dipped the colander into the hot water. When the curd temperature reached 135 degrees, I removed the curd and tried to pull it like taffy. Hmmmm. Something is amiss here. It's all I can do to form it into a ball. It's not cohesive at all. It's crumbly. There's no elasticity. I was soooo looking forward to the taffy pulling part of cheesemaking so you can imagine my disappointment in my failure here. What I had wanted to do was take some of the mozzarella and braid it and make bocconcini (Little Mouthfuls) with the rest. Shape it into little balls and roll in parsley, garlic, sun dried tomatoes, chives, and drizzle with olive oil. Yes, I had very lofty aspirations. It was not in the cards for me. I had a quasi ricotta and it barely, just barely, held together in a ball.
Earlier, before I started the NOT Mozzarella cheese making, I had high hopes and I'd gone into my garden and picked basil, parsley, and chives.
I poured boiling water over my sun dried tomatoes.
I have hot pepper seeds, minced sun dried tomatoes and garlic and chopped parsley, basil, and chives.
I rolled my NOT Mozzarella balls in my flavorings.
Drizzled olive oil over top.
I used the cheese balls in my salads. Oh ... That cucumber (and, of course, the tomato.) is from my garden.
All three Little Hawthornes raved about these little cheese balls. They loved the texture and all the flavors. I checked out Ricki's (of New England Cheesemaking Supply Company) FAQs and found this:


AThis could be due to one of two problems: 1-You are stirring your milk too long after adding the rennet, with today's milk, stirring 1 minute after adding rennet will be plenty. Make sure you have turned the burner off and let it sit quietly while the curd forms. If you do this a nice firm curd will form which can be cut easily. If you continue stirring after this point you are actually cutting the curd as you stir, hence your ricotta like curd.

2-This happens when the milk you have bought ahs been "Ultra"- Pasteurized. The protein is denatured at the high temperature, the whey proteins bind on the casein and block the site of action of the rennet. This damage to the milk is irreversible.Look for another brand of milk and make sure it has not been Ultra- Pasteurized. A local brand is always best.There is one more alternative if Ultra-pasteurized milk is all you have available use dry milk powder and cream. NOTE: While you are at the store ask the owner to stop buying UP milk, there is nothing of any value left in it

I will master Mozzarella.

Mark my words.

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

You know, I seem to recall an episode of Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello where he had gotten "seed"(?) mozzarella and then he and his guests made mozzarella balls at the party.