Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Adventures in Goat cheese making the beginning: Mozzarella

Having made the lemon quick cheese and kefir cheese I was ready to go full tilt into cheese making, with all the confidence and tenacity that I had been given to me by my father. He had always maintained you could do anything you set you mind and will to. I had always read and studied, and with the bliss of not knowing I might fail, went out and conquered the things I set my mind to. I still do, most of the time. I talked to my friend, Belle, and as our friendship was new at the time she didn't know I generally just stumble on and accidentally, usually, get it right. She told me the making mozzarella cheese could be very hard to get right as there is a certain ph you have to hit to make it stretch to it maxim potential. Oh no!  know my mind said, the books had said it was easy!  I didn't read that! so I was immediately apprehensive about making the cheese. I might not be able to do it. Not knowing is bliss thinking you can't is like have the wait of the world on your shoulders, a feeling I don't get often and it seemed to petrify me.

I asked Belle to show me how to make it, as I was now afraid to try on my own. Belle, invited Mokie and I out and we started the process. We added the kefir, and waited, then we added citric acid and the lipase, waited for it to have time to work. We then added the rennet and waited for it to coagulate. We got nice coagulation or set and cut it into nice curd. We let the curd rest and then put it into a cheese cloth and drained out the whey, we then hung our curd to form a curd ball and to finish draining out the last of the whey. We were read to wait for the ph to be right in the curd. I had purchased a ph meter and had tested in on vinegar to get a feel for how it worked. Belles, husband had purchased ph strips, so we thought we would get the ph right with all the tools we had assembled. Time ticked on, there is a method of making mozzarella in the microwave, which is very simple but the end result is not as good at the more traditional method we were using. We made the whey in to ricotta while we waited.

To make ricotta, you heat the whey until it is around 200 degrees, and then strain out the cheese through a cheese cloth, and you let it do it at it's own pace or you will dry it out if you hurry it. The whey that is left over from this I give to my pigs or I pour it on the pumpkin plants to feed them. We talked and waited a number of hours awaiting the magic moment of ph for the mozzarella. The time that we had had  ran out so we put the curd ball in the refrigerator with plans to finish the next day, and let the ph get to the right number.

The next day I arrived, without Mokie, as after the slow pace of cheese making she no longer had a desire to make cheese and still doesn't, though she has watched me making in a number of times. We thought we were close to the right ph so cut the curd ball, that had formed in the hanging cheesecloth. We had saved a small pan of the whey from the ricotta making to heat to 170 degrees to heat our sliced curd. We dropped  the cut curd slices into the water, at first they didn't stretch right but the more we worked it the more we got it to the right feel. Good mozzarella, I have since, learned will stretch just like good old fashion taffy at a taffy pull. We heated the mozzarella in to little ball called bocconcini. We finished them all up and brined them in salt. If you make the mozzarella in a big lump you add salt to the curd once it is drained but the balls can be brined to add the salt. They were wonderful. I ended up with two quarts, as Mokie does more of the milking and I do the making of the cheese we split our cheese evenly, the use of them or the sale of them.

I regained my fearlessness that day, after all it wasn't that hard to make and it was a lot of fun. I made a batch on my own about two days later and it was beautiful, pulled like taffy, didn't use the ph meter as it was not really designed to use on cheese and was estatic about making cheese...... My next batch, not so good, but that is a tale for tomorrow................. later.

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