Saturday, April 28, 2012

Make Mozzarella and Yogurt Yourself

I thought that I would give you some make-it-yourself ideas on making cheese and yogurt at home.  In little Maquoketa, I can’t get fresh Mozzarella and have to drive 40 miles to pick it up.  It really isn’t that difficult and the ingredients are as simple as the recipe.

Homemade Mozzarella 

Makes about 1 pound.

1 gallon whole milk, not “ultra pasteurized”
1 1/2 tsp. non-gmo citric acid*
1/4 tablet rennet*
1 tsp. salt
Water (chlorine-free is preferred; I used water directly from the tap)

* You can obtain rennet and citric acid from health food stores, or you can order them online.

You will need a heavy bottomed, stainless steel or enameled pot which will hold at least 6 quarts; a thermometer; a large slotted spoon; a knife which will reach the bottom of the pot; a colander. Also, a microwave oven or a large pot of water, heated to 185F.

Preliminaries – dissolve 1/4 tablet rennet in a 1/4 cup cool water; mix 1 1/2 tsp. citric acid in 1 cup cool water

Pour milk into pot; stir while adding the citric acid mixture.  Heat the milk to 90F, stirring all the while.

Remove pot from heat; slowly stir in the rennet solution, using an up-and-down motion with your slotted spoon. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Then inspect the curd; it should resemble a custard if pressed gently with your finger.

Using your knife, slice the curd criss-cross into one-inch squares as if you were slicing brownies.  Return the pot to the flame and heat to 105 degrees F as you slowly stir the curds with your spoon.

Remove from heat and continue to stir for 2-5 minutes. The more you stir, the firmer the cheese will be.

Pour into a colander in order to drain off the liquid, or whey, from the curd. Save the whey, if you wish, and use it in place of water for making bread. At this point, if you are not going to use a microwave oven to heat the curds, scroll down for Hot Water Bath directions.

Pour curds into a microwaveable bowl. Holding the curds with one hand, tilt the bowl to drain off as much of the whey as you can.

Microwave on “High” for exactly one minute. Drain off the whey, and fold, with your gloved hands, the curds into one piece. Then add the optional salt.

Microwave again for 30 seconds, drain again, and then place the solid mass on your work surface. Knead just as you would bread, folding the cheese over on itself. Keep kneading until the cheese turns glossy, and looks like mozzarella. If the cheese doesn’t hold together well, give it another 30-second spin in the microwave, or until the cheese reaches 135F. You’ll know the cheese is ready when you can stretch it into a long strand.

Form the cheese into a loaf, a ball, or a bunch of little bite-size balls. If you like braided cheese, by all means have at it.  You have just made string cheese for lunches or fresh Mozzarella for appetizers or pasta and pizza.  

To finish, submerge the cheese in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes. This will insure the cheese holds its shape, and maintains its smooth, silky texture.

You can eat the cheese immediately, or refrigerate it in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks. For longer storage, wrap the cheese tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze it.

Hot Water Bath Directions

Heat a pot of water to 185F. Ladle the curds into a colander, folding the curds gently as you drain off the whey. Dip the colander of curds into the hot water. After several times take a spoon and fold the curds until they start to become elastic and stretchable. This happens when the curd temperature reaches 135F. Remove the curd from the liquid and pull like taffy. This stretching elongates the proteins. If it does not stretch easily, return to the hot water bath for more heating. Then proceed with kneading, as described in Step 10.

Homemade Yogurt

 5 cups low-fat, whole, or skim milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt with active cultures

In a heavy bottomed 4 quart saucepan, heat milk, stirring frequently, over medium heat to 185°. Remove from heat and let cool to 110°.

Place yogurt in a medium bowl. Using a whisk, gradually stir in cooled milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until smooth between additions. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, poking two or three holes for ventilation. Transfer to a warm place (about 90°) until milk begins to thicken around edges and yogurt is set, about 5 hours.

Place bowl in refrigerator until completely chilled. Reserve at least 1/4 cup of this yogurt to begin next batch. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.  Makes 4 cups.

Now get on your creative cap and start adding the fruit of your choice, jam or jelly swirls, and/or granola.          

Tomorrow I'm sharing Puerto Rican recipes I've made.

Be happy and God bless you and yours.

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