Among my many Attention Surplus Disorder activities like making wine [of course], curing my own meats, making pickles, brewing beer, making bread, gardening, making cider, roasting my own coffee, making soap, and whatever catches my eye this week, I like to make my own cheese.
I can't claim to be an expert: I've only been making it for a few years. but I really love the concept, and there are few foods I like more than cheese, whether it's my own mozzarella to melt onto a crispy pizza, tangy goat cheese to schmear onto good baguette, or sharp cheddar to slab on top of apple pie, cheese is one of the most civilized foods I can think of.
Like many food preparation techniques, cheese making is a food preservation technology. Before Pasteurization and refrigeration, milk only kept for a single day before it spoiled by concentrating the fats and proteins and treating it with salt, milk could be turned into a nutritionally dense food that not only could be stored and eaten later, but was also great tasting.
And that's the secret to many of the things we eat because they're delicious, like wine, beer, pickles and bacon: they're all the product of people working to preserve the fruits of their gardens and farms.
It's actually a lot easier than you might think to make your own cheese. You need high-quality milk, a work area, some sanitizers to keep things clean, a double boiler and a few specialized items, like a cheese press, enzymes, and curd knife. The good news is that you can find our cheese making products here.
Basic instructions are as follows:
- Clean and sanitize your equipment and work area
- Warm milk in a pot
- Add citric acid and lipase (to help curd formation)
- Heat the milk and add rennet (this will form the curds)
- Cut the set milk (it's like slicing loose jello)
- Warm the milk up and stir the curds gently
- Strain (now you've got curds and whey!)
- Heat the whey to the correct temperature and dunk the curds in it to warm them
- Salt the curds
- Stretch the curd mass like pulling taffy
- When it's rubbery, chill it in an ice bath.
- Eat your delicious Mozzarella!
Pure, creamy bliss, right there.
It's amazing how fast and easy it is. When I made my first batch of Mozzarella, I did it while my pizza dough was rising and had it ready when the pie was ready to go into the oven. I've never had better, fresher cheese on a pizza in my life. It was one of those times when you realize that you've never really had 'fresh', only what's been made somewhere else, packaged, transported, stored and finally sold to you days and weeks later. It's that amazing.