handmixed tries to make cheese

Posted on February 4, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

I decided last week that it was time to start blogging again.  After a long vacation and surgery, I admit I’ve been lazy.  I’ve been cooking a bit, but nothing adventurous and exciting.  So I decided it was time to push myself a bit.  With cheese.  Yes that’s right…cheese.  I can’t say I know too much about the subject but that’s what Google is for and my mom had told me a while ago that mozzarella was supposed to be easy to make at home.  After some brief searching, I found a great picture-by-picture guide for it and guess what!  It only takes about 30 minutes!  So with a few simple ingredients, I was going to have beautiful, soft, delicious mozzarella for all of my cooking needs.  So simple, how could I not do it?

I’m sure you can guess from the “tries” in the title that it perhaps didn’t go as perfectly as I imagined.  Instead of soft, milky balls of mozzarella…I ended up more with a firm, dry cheese similar to “squeaky cheese” or cheese curds that I kneaded into a log.  I would say it had the texture of paneer (for all of you indian food fans) and between the squeaky-ness and the firmness, I decided that while pizza and caprese salad were NOT in my future, perhaps I could get by with fried cheese curds.

While I won’t give you a full play-by-play like I normally do, I will share some pictures and suggest that if you want to try it, be open to failure or also check out your local Sur La Table (or another cooking class).

What you need: Milk, citric acid, rennet, salt (both rennet and citric acid are available on Amazon.com).

Pre and post citric acid and rennet – rennet causes the milk to come together/form a solid mass

After the rennet, the milk sits for 5 minutes off the stove.  One of my mistakes was that I misread the instructions and left the milk on the heat instead of leaving it off.  This could have caused some problems!  You can see below that the curds and whey are separating.  The knife is to slice the curds into a 1″ x 1″ grid.

After cutting up the curds, you strain them to remove as much whey as possible.  Then you microwave the cheese to remove even more whey.

Once a lot of the whey is removed, the ideal is that you would knead the incredibly hot (almost too hot to handle) cheese like bread until it comes together and forms shiny, stretchy balls of cheese.  This part did not happen for me.  See below to see my end results which are definitely not mozzarella.

So clearly this was not the ideal end result but what could I do?  When I tasted it and heard the squeak, I thought of cheese curds and felt that the only logical choice was to slide it into chunks, beer batter it, and fry it…as any normal person would do, right?


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