cheese is very much a love gift

As Melissa (aka Yummy Goods)’s husband says,

Cheese is very much a love gift.

On tv and all over the Internet, various people have been touting the ease & deliciousness of homemade mozzarella for ages. Recently, the almighty Pioneer Woman, blogged about her adventures in cheese making. She said it was simple, and I tend to believe what she says. She also posted lots of photos. I like photos.

After reading Ree’s post I was on a mission to make cheese. I went shopping on my lunch break. I went to our local country department store and found the citric acid easily. I couldn’t find the rennet, they must have it, they have cheese making books and boat loads of canning supplies, alas, no rennet. I went to the grocery and all I got there was blank stares, rennet??, and a gallon of whole milk.

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On my way home from work, I called three more stores and stopped in at two others. No rennet. I asked everyone I know where to find rennet. I googled and the internets told me buy it online but, I wanted it NOW.

The next day we drove to NY for a party. On our way home we stopped at all of the fancy stores, Whole Foods and Trader Joes. All I found there was chocolate covered espresso beans and the famed cookie butter. Yum.

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We even stopped at Stew Leonard’s, the sign said, World’s Largest Dairy Store, as featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. They make pounds of mozzarella everyday, they had to sell rennet. Nope. My hopes were dashed.

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When we got home, I resigned to ordering the elusive rennet online. By all accounts, New England Cheesemaking Supply Company is THE place to buy rennet and it happens to be about an hour from my house.

I ordered the rennet, the last piece of my cheese making puzzle. They shipped super fast & I had it in my hands by Tuesday. I had Wednesday off from the day job, perfect timing!

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With all three ingredients, a day off from work and a whole lot of enthusiasm, I got down to business.

I used the same recipe as the Pioneer Woman and it really was easy.

Add the citric acid and milk to a NONREACTIVE pot (no aluminum), the ingredients can eat little holes in your pot, then bacteria grows, then you get sick, blah, blah…

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Heat it up. Pour in rennet/water mixture. Heat it up some more. Then let it make magic. Take obligatory hand pressing cheese curd photo.

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Mine didn’t seem to come together as nicely as other photos I’d seen, a little more cottage cheesy. That may be because I used pasteurized milk instead of raw.

Then you cut the curd.

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Then stir.

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Oh, shit! Why did I stir?? This isn’t going to work, I’m going to have crap cottage cheese like mush.

Scoop out the curd.

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Strain.

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Then you have almost a gallon of whey. Attempt to force boys in the house to use in their protein drinks. Fail. Feel bad about dumping. Leave in fridge for week.

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Microwave the curd a few times & drain the liquid. Squish & knead a bit.

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Next, freak out because holy shit, it’s working, you’re making mozzarella!!

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Play with it too much because it’s so cool.

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Plop in ice water to cool it down.

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Taste test.

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Brag to everyone you know that you made cheese.

Make grilled pizzas with slabs of fresh, homemade mozzarella & veggies from the garden. Brag some more.

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Things I’ll do differently next time: microwave one less time. My cheese was a bit drier than I would like.

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