A group of us on Slow Travel are doing monthly cheesemaking, and this was the March assignment. So, I am doing double cheese duty this week because our April assignment is on Wednesday! But, just like you can't be too thin or too rich, there is no such thing as too much cheese!
from Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll
Yield: 3/4 to 1 pound.
1 1/2 level teaspoons citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
1 gallon pasturized whole milk
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon lipase powder,dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water and allowed to sit for 20 minutes, for a stronger flavor, optional
1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet(or 1/4 rennet tablet) diluted in 1/4 cup cool, unchlorinated water
1 teaspoon cheese salt(optional)
1. While stirring add the citric acid solution to the milk at 55 degrees F and mix thoroughly. (If using lipase, add it now.)
Note: You may use skim milk, but the yield will be lower and the cheese will be drier.If you use lipase, you may have to add a bit more rennet, as lipase makes the cheese softer.
2. Heat the milk to 90 degrees F over medium/low heat. (The milk will start to curdle.)
3. Gently stir in the diluted rennet with an up and down motion, while heating the milk to between 100-105 degrees. Turn off the heat. The curds should be pulling away from the sides of the pot; they are ready to scoop out (approximately 3 to 5 munutes for this.)
4. The curds will look like thick yogurt and have a bit of a shine to them, and the whey will be clear. If the whey is still milky white, wait a few more minutes.
5. Scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon and put into a 2-quart microwavable bowl. Press the curds gently with your hands, pouring off as much whey as possible. Reserve the whey.
6. Microwave the curds on HIGH for 1 minute. Drain off all excess whey. Gently fold the cheese over and over (as in kneading bread) with your hand or spoon. This distributes the heat evenly throughout the cheese, which will not stretch until it is too hot to touch (145 degrees inside the curd).
7. Microwave two more times for 35 seconds each; add salt to taste after the second time. After each heating, knead again to distribute the heat.
8. Knead quickly until it is smooth and elastic. When the cheese stretches like taffy, it is done. If the curds break instead of stretch, they are too cool and need to be reheated.
9. When the cheese is smooth and shiny, roll it into small balls and eat while warm. Or place them in a bowl of ice water for 1/2 hour to bring the inside temperature down rapidly; this will produce a consistent smooth texture throughout the cheese. Although best eaten fresh, if you must wait, cover and store in the refrigerator.
My first try at making cheese was not too successful. The cheese didn't ever firm enough to form it into a mozzarella ball. It had more the consistency of ricotta, which the book said could be because the milk I used was not the right kind.
Although it didn't turn out as expected, we did enjoy the mozzarella (aka ricotta) cheese on pizza with pesto, grilled chicken, halved cherry tomatoes, and cashews on a Boboli thin crust (no, I wasn't ambitious enough to make my own crust).