Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bucket list :Cheese making

I'm not sure why I was so intimidated by making cheese, with so many pictures of how easy it is on Pinterest and all the oh so simple guides in all the homestead books I read. I was though. The whole concept of heating up milk adding a few things to it and in and in a few hours having pretty amazing cheese is kind of cool.  With the help of a friend we tackled cheese making today. The tutorial we used was the one on The Family Homestead blog. It didn't require a microwave like so many tutorials out there and it had the added bonus of how to use the whey to make ricotta.  Since everything is already dirty and the tons of whey (it was over 2 gallons) isn't so useful was a nice way to expand the cheese making experience and not feel so bad for wasting all the whey.

Taking the milk temperature basically you add the milk to the pot a little citric acid and let it heat up to 88 degrees
 then you add rennet that has been diluted in water and let it keep heating up till it gets to 105 degrees. Stirling the pot occasionally.Then you cover it let it sit for 15 min and the hard part is done. It was ridiculously easy. Hardest part was trying to figure out how to get the thermometer to stay suspended in the giant pot (not the sewing thread and clothes pin) and keeping 2 two year-olds out of the kitchen. 

 It gets all clumpy and becomes curds and whey. (feel free to insert Miss Muffet jokes here) 

 Then you drain off the whey. We put a colander over attached a cheese cloth. Well a flat cloth diaper, the gauzy cheese cloth stuff doesn't work don't use it but the cheap flat diapers work great.

 This is half the whey we had left over its going to make a few dogs and chickens very happy, I hope. Apparently they really like it on their food. You can all so use it in baking as the liquid in bread or in soups. We try to minimize the amount of dairy that C come in contact with though so I didn't save any food cooking 

After you drain off the whey (before you dump or store it) you take the still suspended cheese and pop it in the fridge for a few hours and put the whey back into the pot add some more milk and heat it back up to 105 degrees. Let it sit for 15 min and then drain the whey out and you get ricotta.  It looked solid until I added more fresh milk and broke it up a bit then it looked much more like the stuff you buy in the store. Thousand times more yummy. C was dancing around the kitchen singing "yummy cheese I eat it more."

Finishing the mozzarella cheese was a little more complicated. You take it out of the fridge and run hot water over it to get all of the whey out. It falls apart into a curd mess that is terrifying if you aren't expecting it. I drained mine through the cheese cloth and kept running the water over until it was clear. Then you stretch the cheese ball and the clumpy cheese gets magically stringy and looks just like mozzarella should.  

I will defiantly be doing this again. Often. We love eating lasagna and you cannot beat a mozzarella basil covered tomato that has been roasted on the grill in the summer. With cheese being so expensive however (not to mention filled with extra preservatives and hidden soy and gluten, yuck)  We don't get to have lasagna goodness all that often.  I have a feeling that might change.

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