Now, if someone told me I could never eat another piece of cheese for the rest of my life, I would probably curl up in to the fetal position and cry. And then I would mourn. And ultimately, I’d probably turn into a pretty miserable person to be around.
One of the things I’m most excited about with this scratch cooking venture is homemade cheeses. Like really excited. Especially after how this last batch of mozzarella turned out.
First step, add citric acid to a large non-reactive pot. Non reactive pot… yeah, I had no idea what that meant so I Googled it. And holy crap that’s why when I’ve made cheese in the past it hasn’t curdled right. Luckily, we were gifted this pretty amazing stainless steel and copper cooking set for our wedding! A set that I fought had an adult conversation weighing the pros and cons with my then fiance about, because I thought it was an incredibly presumptuous gift to put on our registry. His response was first, “Someone could get it for us and then how great would that be?!” And then, “I told you so.” Jerk.
With the citric acid in the pot, I then poured in 1/4 cup of water to dissolve the acid.
You can find citric acid in bulk in the spice section of your grocery store. It’s an organic acid that’s also a natural preservative. Although naturally occurring in citrus fruits (duh), it’s now known as a commodity chemical and is produced by fermentation. Are you supposed to cite sources on blogs? Because trust me, that’s not something I just happened to know.
Still off the heat I covered the pot and gave the little proteins and enzymes some privacy for them to do their thing for 5 mins.
Now it’s time for the microwave. Ugh. Ok, anyone who knows Dan and I well know we don’t have a microwave. Well, we have one, it just lives in the basement. Because that’s how much we use it. And because we’ve always had tiny little kitchens and we refuse to sacrifice precious counter top space for a machine we never use. Seriously, the last time we used it was Christmas 2011 when we made a ton of Christmas cookies as gifts and we had to soften, not melt, like 6 lbs of butter. Then, it sat in the garage in our old place until it got moved straight to the basement of our new place, where it has been since we moved in a year ago. Until now. Grumbling, after having to move two camping coolers and a bunch of other crap that seems to breed in basements on things you think you’ll never need but then one day do, I brought the wretched thing up. Because, dammit, it makes this process so much faster.
So I popped my little curd ball into the microwave for 1 minute on high.
At this point my studly husband came home form the gym and rescued me from picture taking.
So after the microwave, the little curd was hot and super pliable. This is when it really starts to form. I squeezed off more of the whey, and kneaded it a bit.
Then put it back in the microwave for another 35 seconds to heat it up again.
Another trip in the microwave for another 35 seconds and more squeezing off whey and kneading and it started to get smooth. Ooohh la la.
To add some additional flavor, I generously salted a cutting board.
Then I plopped my smooth, soft, but dense and slightly stretched mound onto the cutting board, front and back to pick up the salt, and I kneaded it some more working the salt in.
It was still pretty warm though and since we were going to use it immediately for French Onion soup, I gave it a little ice bath to cool it down so we could slice it.
What we didn’t use right away we stored in a tupperware with a mix of whey and water to keep it’s moisture. It’ll last for about a week. Also, it’s not a super melty mozzarella. Maybe if we grated it that would help, but it doesn’t get too ooey and gooey in the oven.
Oh! And the whey! Whey is awesome and can be used for so many things! We saved a bunch of it because we’re going to use it in Dan’s Como Bread (replacing the water in the starter), AND make ricotta cheese out of it. Two cheeses for the price of one! Win.