Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rosie Tries Her Hand At Mozzarella. Again.

Last Saturday, Rosie did a whole lotta cookin'. Once again, Rosie attempted mozzarella cheese.
I've already tried making mozzarella twice. A little over a year ago, I tried making mozzarella and ended up with ricotta, albeit very good ricotta. My children loved it in salads. I rolled the balls of semi-cohesive ricotta in minced basil and sun-dried tomatoes and in chives and scallions. Darn good stuff. And I tried last February when Marion visited to make it again. Last year, I had ordered a Mozzarella and Ricotta kit from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. The first two times
I used the "water bath method." Since I was unsuccessful those two attempts, I decided to try the alternative "microwave method" this time. Last time I was at my OBX-GYN's office, she told me she'd been making mozzarella too, with the same kit and she'd used the microwave method and actually pulled and stretched the cheese like taffy. I made her repeat that 3 times. Well, of course. I must try the microwave method. Immediately, if not sooner. They say third time's a charm. It wasn't. But I did end up with some really good tasting soft, spreadable cheese. Once again, I was unable to pull and stretch the cheese like taffy. Rosie hangs head in shame. Rosie vows to master mozzarella.
Any cheesemakers out there want to jump in here and help me, go right ahead. Here's the process:
First I dissolved 1/4 rennet tablet in 1/4 cup of cool, chlorine-free water.
Stir to dissolve and set aside.
Next, I mixed 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid in 1 cup of cool, chlorine-free water until dissolved.
I poured a gallon of whole milk in my pot. "Ultra"-pasteurized milk does NOT work in this mozzarella recipe. My milk didn't say ultra-pasteurized so I'm assuming it wasn't. What the UP process does is denature the protein in the milk by the high heat treatment (over 172 degrees).
Stir vigorously while adding the citric acid solution.
Heat the milk to 90 degrees while stirring.
Remove the pot from the burner and slowly stir in the rennet solution with an up and down motion for approximately 30 seconds. Cover the pot and leave it undisturbed for five minutes.
And yay! I have curd. It should look like a custard with a clear separation between the curd and the whey.
Take a long knife that reaches to the bottom of the pot and cut the curd diagonally - as in back slash/forward slash.
Like so.
Place the pot back on the stove and heat to 105 degrees while slowly moving the curds with your spatula.
When the temperature reaches 105 degrees, remove the pot from the burner and continue slowly stirring for 2-5 minutes. More time will make a firmer cheese. Pour off the whey.
I carefully ladled my curds into a large microwaveable bowl, draining off as much of the whey as I could without pressing the curds too much.
Even though I ladled the curds out I still had some whey that needed to be taken out.
The curds went into the microwave for one minute.
I added in one tablespoon of salt and drained off the whey as I tried to gently fold the curds into one piece. This ain't happening for me. Microwave for another 30 seconds.
The curd must be 135 degrees to stretch properly. If it's not hot enough, microwave for another 30 seconds.
At this point the directions say to "stretch the cheese by pulling it like taffy until it's smooth and shiny. The more you work the cheese, the firmer it will be. Now form your cheese into a log or ball or braid it ... " As you can see from the picture, there's no stretching this cheese. It ain't gonna happen.
So's I poured it into cheesecloth.
And wrapped it up.
The directions say after forming your cheese into a log, ball, or braid, " submerge it in ice water to cool it down and allow the cheese to hold its shape. This step is critical as it protects the silky texture and keeps it from becoming grainy."
And here's my "mozzarella." What might look like "graininess" is not. It's the impression of the cheesecloth. I told you this was a soft cheese. More like creamy ricotta. (First time I made this, I had crumbly ricotta which I could sorta roll into balls.)
It's a very soft, spreadable cheese with a mild flavor. And yes, I like it. But I so wanted to stretch and pull my cheese like taffy. I found some troubleshooting facts in the cheese making manual: "If the curd formed well but will not stretch, even after you have gotten it very hot, try again, but increase the amount of citric acid to 2 teaspoons." So next time - and yes, there WILL be a next time - I'm upping the citric acid. I can be like a dog with a bone when something doesn't go exactly right for me. Stay tuned to see what I did with the cheese.


Marion said...

Did you (we) try using organic milk? (not ultra-pasteurized, which is hard to find but I think Teeter carries it) kitties love organic yogurt but won't touch 'regular'......

Rosie Hawthorne said...

I (we) didn't use organic milk.
I'll have to try that next time.