Archive for the ‘Cheesemaking’ Category

My, that sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?  I suppose if my house were a restaurant, I would have to come up with a better name for this meal.  The road to this dinner started earlier in the week.  I had everything in place – milk, equipment, instructions, a microwave borrowed from a neighbor, and a hopeful heart – to welcome my second cheesemaking success, this time with mozzarella.  How the best laid plans…

Everything started out so well – the milk was separating, music was playing, I may have been dancing around the kitchen – and then I made my first mistake.  I stirred when I should have left alone.  Because the cheese never really set, I ended up with something in between mozzarella and ricotta – not firm enough to shape into a ball, but not crumbly enough to separate easily.

Imagine my shame in returning the microwave, untouched.  I didn’t even get to knead cheese!  Well, not yet.  I plan to tackle the mozzarella beast yet again this weekend.  In the meantime, I’m left with this ‘tweener cheese.  Waste cheese?  Not on your life.  This stuff is gooooood. 

Creamy, decadent cheesy goodness.  A perfect accompaniment to our dinnertime staple of salad.  It’s funny, I’m not really a salad person.  I tend to crave steamed veggies and warm meals over cold, crisp ones.  This is a CSA development, because I’ve yet to hear another suggestion for using up the heads of lettuce we receive in our box.  With the help of Annie’s Organic Papaya Poppyseed salad dressing, I’m acquiring a certain appreciation for the raw stuff.  When we are faced with an overflowing produce drawer, the salad becomes our vehicle for using everything up – enter the kitchen sink salad.  This one was the grateful recipient of 1/2 an avocado, some ready-to-be-used-or-tossed red onion, a cut up carrot, and some extra tomato.

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I ordered a kit from The Cheese Queen at cheesemaking.com to make my own ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.  Inspired by Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I’m done with the plastic tubs and rubbery flavors of store-bought cheeses.  And as seen in my previous posts, cheese is a staple in this house.  I was shocked at how easy it was to make my own ricotta – I can’t see ever buying it again.  As soon as I can track down a neighbor with a microwave, I’m going to give mozzarella a shot.

Full instructions come with the kit (which I strongly recommend), and are also on the Cheese Queen’s website, but here’s a quick overview of what I did.  It’s so easy.  Pour a gallon of whole milk (just make sure it’s not ultra-pasteurized) into a large, non-reactive pot, stir in 1 tsp cheese salt and 1 tsp citric acid, and bring the mixture to 195°, stirring frequently to make sure the milk doesn’t curdle. 


Because I used a slotted spoon and stirred like the dickens, my ricotta curds were pretty small.  I would imagine that less stirring would give me a thicker curd.  Next time!


When the curds and whey begin to separate, turn off the heat and let the mixture sit untouched for 10 minutes.  Ladle the curds and whey into a colander lined with butter muslin.  Save the whey, as it can be used in place of buttermilk or sour milk in cooking – nothing goes to waste, and the pancakes tomorrow will be heavenly!  If you don’t use the whey in cooking, they say that it’s a good plant food.  Tie the cloth into a bag and hang it for about an hour, or until it drains to the consistency you’re looking for.


Voila!  Ricotta that you can eat with a spoon – so good!  It keeps in the refrigerator for 2 weeks, and can also be frozen, so I divided it.  Some for tomorrow’s ricotta pancakes (made with whey), some for baked pasta later.  Hooray for DIY.


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