Cheese can be made from any dairy
animal milk. Fresh raw milk from cows or goats, and store
bought whole milk. One rule of thumb regardless of the source
of your milk is, the fresher the better. When purchasing milk
from the store be sure to check the freshness dates. Don't be
afraid to ask your grocer for milk from their latest delivery.
If you explain what you are using it for they should be very
helpful. Milk should always be kept refrigerated until ready
Store bought milk is homogenized, which means that the cream particles (butter fat) have been mechanically broken up into microscopic particles. This is done to prevent the cream from separating from the milk. Homogenizing and pasteurizing also alters the milk protein. Unless the cheese maker compensates for this the milk will not make a satisfactory curd.
To compensate for the processing of store bought milk we add calcium chloride prior to adding rennet to the milk mixture. The addition of calcium chloride will help restore the altered milk protein and aid in the development of a quality curd.
DO NOT USE ULTRA-PASTEURIZED MILK !
For your first batch of mozzarella cheese we recommend that you use store bought whole milk. The basic recipe is for 1 gallon whole milk. After you have mastered the process used to make our mozzarella, you can experiment with other type of milk.
Using Fresh Milk
If you have access to fresh milk from cows, sheep or goats, we encourage you to use it. As you may already know, the chemistry of fresh milk will vary with the season, diet, and even the time of day you milk. You will need to experiment a little to adjust your recipe. Use the recipe included in your kit as is, then make adjustments as needed.
Citric Acid is used to cause the curds (milk solids) to separate from the whey (liquid).
Mild Lipase Powder is an enzyme agent extracted from dairy animals. Strict vegetarians should omit this ingredient.
Chloride helps to restore the
balance between calcium and protein in store bought milk. It
may also be needed with fresh milk.
Vegetable Rennet contains no animal products and has the same coagulating ability as animal rennet when used in milk that has been ripened. Rennet must be diluted with distilled water prior to adding to milk so that it will not shock the milk and distribute evenly as it is added. Rennet tablets will keep the strength longer of they are kept frozen.
Flaked Salt is a premium grade ultra fine salt with absolutely no additives. No other salt may be substituted due to the purity and difference in weight between equal measures of different grades of salt.
Your Cheese Making Work Area
It is very important that you dedicate your kitchen to making cheese for the entire process. Do not prepare any other food while you are making cheese. Milk is very susceptible to unwanted bacteria infection. It is not difficult to prevent cross contamination as long as you take care.
To prepare your work area, put all food products away, move all dish cloths and soiled towels to the laundry room and wash your counters, sink and stove top with soap and water. Now use a commercial antibacterial cleaning spray to wipe down all surfaces.
You will need a 6 to 8 quart stainless steel pot. Do not use aluminum or cast iron. A stainless steel or strong plastic slotted spoon. A two quart microwave safe mixing bowl, measuring spoons and a thermometer which will clearly read between 80 - 160°F.
Place one gallon whole milk into a stainless steel pot. Measure all of the following ingredients into five individual containers. This will allow you to make the cheese without worrying about measurements.
Place the stock pot of milk on the stove over medium heat. It is important that you heat the milk slowly. Sprinkle in the citric acid and mild lipase powder and diluted calcium chloride while you gently stir. Heat slowly until the milk reaches 88 degrees. Stir every few minutes to prevent scorching the milk on the bottom of the pot. You will begin to see the curd develop.
Once the milk reaches 88°F. stir in the rennet and water mixture. Continue stirring every few minutes until the milk reaches 105°F.
Developing the Curd
Remove from the heat and let the milk set covered for 20 minutes at 105°F. Curd (white mass) and whey (greenish liquid) will now be fully separated.
Cooking the Curd
Use a slotted spoon or strainer to transfer the curd to a microwave safe dish. If the curd is too soft to transfer, let the milk sit a few more minutes. Pour off as much of the whey as you can. Gently press the curds together with the spoon and force more whey out of them. Squeeze out and drain as much whey as possible.
Place the curd in the
microwave on high for one minute. Remove and press the curds
again to force out more whey. The cheese should begin to mass
together and become sticky.
If it does not, you will need to leave it in the microwave a few seconds longer. Not all microwaves are equal ! It will not hurt to place the cheese back in the oven for 20 - 30 seconds more if necessary. Please note the total time needed for future reference.
Add the flaked salt a little at a time and knead the
cheese with a spoon as you would bread dough. It will become
smooth and shiny. Place the curd back into the microwave and
heat on high for one more minute. Remove from oven and drain
any remaining whey. This time your cheese will be too hot to
handle, about 130 degrees.
Stretching the Cheese
Knead the cheese again until it sticks to the spoon and pulls away from the bowl.
When the cheese begins to stretch like taffy, it is almost done. You can have some fun now by pulling and stretching the cheese until it is completely cooled. This is an important step. Stretching will make the cheese firm and stringy. If you prefer a softer texture don't stretch as much.
Place the cheese in an air tight container or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Use this cheese with in one week or store it in the freezer for up to one month. If your cheese is too soft to shred for pizza, place it in the freezer then shred and use it partly frozen.
Non Microwave Instructions:
The microwave is used in order to bring the temperature of the curds to 140-150°F so they can be stretched and you can expel more of the whey.
If you don’t have a microwave, you can follow the instructions up to the point at which you remove the separated curds from the whey. Bring the pot of whey up to 170°F. Place small pieces of the curd into a bowl. Ladle some of the hot whey over the curds and work them together with a spoon or your hands if you’re wearing rubber gloves (170°F is hot!). Keep working them until they stick together and you can begin to see if they’ll stretch. You may have to add more hot whey to maintain the temperature.
This is similar to the traditional way of making mozzarella but it is quicker since the milk is directly acidified with citric acid instead of using bacterial culture.