I have fond memories of loading my plate with a few mozzarella balls every Friday during my two years studying in Italy, and, really, I haven't had anything that tastes like what I remember since that time. So, though it might not be the easiest of fresh (non-aged) cheeses, I had to start with mozzarella. The first step, of course, involved obtaining a gallon of fresh milk. It was harder than one might think since the boys consume the half-gallon we're currently getting each day practically as soon as it's out of the goats. Thankfully we have a nice store of frozen milk from the Rosemary's and the boys' time in Wisconsin in May. They got to drink thawed-out milk for two days until I had a full gallon to work with.
|A gallon of the freshest Kleinshire goat milk|
The next step involved adding some citric acid and carefully heating the milk to 90 degrees. Then I added rennet, the product that causes the milk to form into curds. It's a delicate process, and I must say that I was especially nervous when Rosemary came home an hour into the process and casually informed me that the thermometer was probably off by about ten degrees.
Nonetheless, a solid curd did form in the pot of milk after about an hour. I was able to cut the curd, heat it to 105 degrees, and then ladle the pieces into the colander.
|The curd separated from the whey.|
According to numerous Internet recipes, the next step involves evaporating most of the remaining whey by heating the curd in a microwave. But since I think this would zap many of the enzymes that make making cheese worth it in the first place (and since we don't have a microwave anyway), I opted for the time-consuming old fashioned method. This involved dipping balls of the curd in water heated to 170 degrees and squeezing and massaging the remaining whey out of them.
|Dipping the mozzarella balls in hot water to get rid of every last bit of whey.|
When the balls were finally stretchy, like mozzarella should be, then the process was finished.
|Stretchy mozzarella, just as it should be.|
In the end, I had five tiny balls of mozzarella cheese. Frankly, it was a lot of work, and I was surprised by how little cheese a gallon of milk yielded.
|This is all the mozzarella that a gallon of milk yields. I think I'll experiment with a finer straining device to ensure that I'm getting all the curds separated from the whey.|
BUT... Rosemary's discerning palate pronounced the cheese phenomenally good. A little more salt next time, though.
|Rosemary's discerning palate pronounced the cheese good.|
AND... the byproduct is not worthless. For starters, the whey can be heated a second time, to 200 degrees this time, and then strained.
|The whey draining from the ricotta cheese.|
This produces five or six ounces of ricotta cheese, to which I added some more salt, per Rosemary's instructions, and some Italian seasoning. It will taste delicious spread on some sort of bread tomorrow.
|Ricotta cheese, the finished product.|
AND... even the remaining byproduct is not worthless. The doubly strained whey can be used for any cooking endeavor, perhaps tomorrow's bread.
|Cletus isn't so sure about the whey.|
A lot of work, to be sure. But very tasty too!