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Little Miss Muffet

On yesterday’s Channel 12 Valley Dish, the “homemade mozzarella” segment that Tram and I filmed a few weeks ago, aired. You can watch the segment at THIS LINK.

You’ll notice that we begin with fresh curds and you may recall that I acquired those curds from a local chef friend. You can order fresh curds at THIS LINK … or bet yet, you can make your own fresh curds and whey by beginning with just plain old whole milk.  That is what today’s recipe will teach you to do.

One important note about the milk; Read the label carefully and make sure that the milk is NOT labeled “ultra-pasteurized”.  Ultra-pasteurized milk has been heated to a high temperature that kills the bacteria and cultures needed to make cheese. Raw milk or pasteurized milk is what you want to find. I think the best two options are to use either Straus Family Creamery milk, which can be found locally at Whole Foods, Sprouts, and AJ’s. Go to THIS LINK to find a store near you that carries this wonderful product. The second option is to go to a local dairy farm and purchase milk directly from the source.

We made fresh mozzarella and fresh ricotta cheese several summers ago at LPG and I’m thinking it’s time to do it again this year, so I’ll be adding that to my summer schedule, which will be emailed/mailed out on March 1, 2011.

Speaking of cooking classes, I also teach adult classes at Barbara Fenzl’s Les Gourmettes Cooking School in Phoenix. There are still a few spaces available for my series of three classes, which are held on Wednesday evenings; March 2, March 9, and March 16 from 6:30 – 9:30 PM.  If you are interested in signing up or learning more about the menus and price, please either email me at lpgourmett@aol.com or leave me a comment here and I will email you the schedule/registration.

cruds and whey

Fresh Curds & Whey

1-gallon fresh whole milk
2 teaspoons cultured buttermilk
1/4 rennet tablet *
Large stainless steel pot with a thick bottom and lid
Candy thermometer
Large metal mixing spoon
Large metal slotted spoon
Large strainer or colander

***I originally posted the recipe using 5 gallons of milk to make about 6 pounds of cheese. But several of you thought that was too much. So I’ve reduced it to 1 gallon of milk which will garner you a little over a pound of cheese.  I had figured that if you were going to the trouble to make it, may as well make a lot… but this really is more manageable. 🙂

Sterilize your equipment. Place a few cups of water in the large pot and bring to a boil, cover and boil for 10 minutes. This will sterilize the pot and lid. When disposing of the boiling water, pour over the spoons, thermometer, and strainer to sterilize them as well.  Air-dry all.

Pour milk into the pot, attach the thermometer to the side of the pot, and place over medium heat. When the temperature reaches 68 degrees, remove from heat, stir in the buttermilk and let sit for 1 hour.

Dissolve the rennet tablet in 1/4 cup of cold water. Return pot to medium heat and bring up to 87 degrees. Remove from heat and add the dissolved Rennet, stir thoroughly. Cover and let sit for 1 hour.

After the hour, test for a “clean break.”  Insert a clean index finger into the gelled milk and lift out. If the gelled milk is not firm enough to split cleanly as you lift, let the milk sit until a clean break is achieved. DO NOT STIR. Test again in an hour, and if it still isn’t ready, an hour after that. Be patient and do not disturb the milk, with the exception of doing the finger test.

Once a clean break is achieved, cut the curd with a long blade knife. Begin at one edge of the pot, cut straight down to the bottom and across the pot. Cut repeatedly at 1/2-inch intervals until you’ve reached the other side of the pot.

Turn the pot 90 degrees and cut in the other direction.

Use a large spoon to stir and break up the curds into about 1/2-inch pieces. Heat slowly over medium-low heat to 97 degrees, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cover, and let sit at room temperature overnight.

In the morning, carefully lift out the curds and place them in a colander placed over a bowl to separate the curds from the whey. Refrigerate separately.  Now you have fresh curds and can make fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh whey to make ricotta! 

Tomorrow- the written recipe, with photos, to make your own mozzarella. On Thursday…. fresh ricotta!

* Rennet tablets can be found at most grocery stores and are generally found near the pudding boxes. FYI: I did not find it a Safeway, but easily found it at Fry’s where it sells for $2.89

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