Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Learning to Crawl - My First Attempt at Making Cheese
It started out well enough, but then things quickly began to fall apart. Not too long ago, I tried my hand at making cheese for the first time. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out the way I would have wanted.
When we were in Vermont this summer, I decided to buy Ricki Carroll's (the self-described 'cheese queen') mozzarella and ricotta cheesemaking kit at Shelburne Farms to take home with me. Recently, I picked up a gallon of pasteurized whole milk from our local dairy farm in order to make mozzarella cheese. Ricki's recipe seemed simple enough - I slowly heated the milk to the desired temperature, then added the citric acid and eventually the rennet.
Unfortunately, I was never able to get the curds to form properly. I could tell shortly adding the rennet that something was wrong. Two possible explanations for this could be that either I stirred for too long when mixing in the rennet (which is highly doubtful) or the milk was pasteurized at a higher temperature by the dairy (ultra-pasteurized), which would render the milk unsuitable for cheesemaking. I guess the only way to find out for sure is to get another gallon of whole milk from the same dairy and try again.
I felt terribly disappointed. My initial thought was to dump everything down the drain. Fortunately, my frugal side prevailed and I decided to collect and press together the curled bits with some cheesecloth. To my delight, it was more than edible. It was actually pretty good. Granted, the texture was more like a stiff cream cheese than a mozzarella, but it still had that fresh cow's milk cheese taste.
I ended up using it in a lasagna in place of the usual ricotta cheese. To our delight, it melted into an rich and creamy consistency. It was goooood.
Hopefully my next attempt at cheesemaking will yield better results. However, it's nice to know that all is not lost even when you screw up royally.