I have always wanted to try my hand at making mozzarella cheese. Perhaps the reason I haven't made it sooner is because I had ever had access to real milk. And by "real," I mean: local, fresh-out-of- the-cow, full-fat, never seen the inside of a pasteurizer, hormone-free, I've met the cow that made it, MILK. I have my chickens to thank for connecting me with Lauren Hastings Kaplan, a member of a family-owned dairy farm in town, Hastings Farm. Small talk about my flock at a school function for our children resulted in a business partnership and friendship with Lauren and her family. When she and her sister, Megan, were preparing to open their new farm store last year, Lauren called to ask about selling my eggs. Megan and Lauren have been selling my eggs as well as their milk, yogurts and cheeses for the ever since.
The entrance to Hastings Farm, Suffield, CT (above). Some of the ladies (below).
With garden fresh tomatoes and basil in abundant supply right now, I tried to get Megan to delve into mozzarella, but her plate was full, so I decided to try my own hand at it. I relied upon several recipes, most heavily on recipes from the New England Cheesemaking Company and Leener's. While it took me somewhat longer than 30 minutes, it was fun and easy to make. Obtaining real milk from Hastings Farm was the first step. I've never tasted raw milk before and it was indeed a treat. The mozzarella was rich and moist. The remaining ingredients can be obtained at any cheese-making supply company, I ordered mine through Leeners.com.
1 gallon of milk (preferably local, raw, hormone-free)
1 ½ teaspoon citric acid dissolved in 1cup water
¼ rennet tablet dissolved in ¼ cup water
1 teaspoon cheese salt (aka: flaked salt)
A stainless steel pot, stainless steel slotted spoon, colander and a thermometer will be needed.
On medium heat, pour milk into a cold, stainless steel pot and slowly heat the milk.
Dissolve 1 1/2 teaspoons of citric acid powder in 1 cup water.
Add citric acid water to milk, stirring constantly.
Bring the temperature of the milk slowly up to 90°F.
Curdled milk. Mmm.
Dissolve 1/4 tablet rennet in 1/4 cup water. When milk reaches 90°F, remove from heat & slowly stir in rennet. Stir to combine.
Cover pot and let rest for 5 minutes.
Curd should look like custard and the whey, clear (mine wasn't clear & I should've let it sit longer).
Cut the curd into 1" squares with a large knife.
Return pot to burner and heat to 105°F, stirring slowly.
The curd should have stayed in cubes at this point, which means my curd could have been allowed to set a little longer after I added
the rennet, but it turned out perfectly in the end.
Remove curd from whey with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander over a bowl.
Drain the curd, gently pressing to remove whey.
Place curd in microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 60 seconds.
Pour off excess whey. Knead and microwave for 30 seconds. Pour off excess whey again.
Add salt and knead into curd. Return to microwave for 30 seconds. Pour off excess whey.
Turn out onto clean workspace and knead, stretch, repeat.
The stretching is the fun part!
Form into a ball until smooth and shiny.
Place cheese into an ice bath to set shape and cool.
Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Nothing says summer quite like caprese salad. Slice tomatoes, mozzarella and top with basil leaves and a light drizzle of
extra virgin olive oil. Buon Appetito!
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