Monday, March 11, 2013

Home-made Mozzarella Cheese - a near failure, or how NOT to make cheese

Full disclaimer: This ball of cheese took about 5 hours to make! It worked out in the very end, but I made plenty of mistakes along the way. I need to buy a few things before I make another attempt, but for now here is a short list of my failures in this first batch:

1) Rennet: Whole Foods only had "Junket" rennet and no vegetable rennet. It was only after careful searching (and after my cheese had not separated 2 hours after carefully following the directions) that I discovered that Junket = junk in cheese-making. It's not nearly strong enough. I had to quadruple the dose to get any results, and all the additives make me uneasy.

2) Acid or Heat?: Even after adding this, 2 hours later the curds and whey were separated...but the curds were too soft. I couldn't even pick them up carefully with my fingers. It was like floating yogurt in a bowl of water. I decided to heat the mixture and add lemon juice to see if I could at least get ricotta out of it...and THEN it formed nice, big, firm curds. 

Maybe the acidity wasn't high enough for the quadrupled amount of Junket (I did add the citric acid in the beginning...)? Maybe the heat did it? Whatever the case, I followed the rest of the directions at this point and warmed, squeezed, and stretched the curds until I got the shiny ball shown above.

Also, at least one website called me a bad person for using tap water instead of bottled distilled glacial water. Oh well.

I let it sit overnight in a bag full of whey and tried it this's delicious! Also, despite my fears about eating anything that has sat at room temperature for more than an hour, I feel fine. I can't wait to try this again with some proper ingredients, and will post a full tutorial next time! 

For anyone who actually wants to attempt to make this cheese with Junket after all this, here's my list of ingredients:

1/2 gallon of (expensive) local, not Ultra-Pasteurized whole milk ( has a fantastic list here)
5/8 tsp citric acid, dissolved in 1/4 cup water (I found mine in bulk spices)
1 entire tablet of Junket rennet, dissolved (you'll have to crush it) in 1/2 cup water (found near pudding mixes)
about 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

Follow the directions for American Mozzarella Cheese in the Junket box, with optional added cursing, hours of websearching, and complaining to your mother and/or husband about how much you fail as a person because you can't complete a seemingly-simple recipe.

Have fun!


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