Sunday, April 22, 2012
In exchange for services rendered, Ben got me a cheesemaking kit from the "cheese queen" at New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. It's the very beginner kit, making just two easy fresh cheeses, ricotta and mozzarella, and it claims to include supplies (citric acid, rennet, and salt) sufficient for thirty batches of cheese.
I've tried mozzarella twice now, and I've managed to press the curds into nice soft sliceable mozzarella-tasting balls (I know, they still need more salt). But I haven't figured out how to form curds that are willing to be stretched like taffy (the cheese queen has a microwave method) to achieve the right gooey, stretchable mozzarella texture.
(The problem may be the milk -- I couldn't stomach $8 per gallon for local farm-fresh choices, so I've been using Hood from the drugstore. If you're shopping at the grocery store, organic milks are actually more likely to be ultra-pasteurized -- which spoils them for cheesemaking -- than conventional milks.)
Some friends of ours learned mozzarella coddling properly at a Dave's Fresh Pasta class, and the difference (they brought us a sample) was substantial. I'm hoping to visit some friends -- who have also been having cheesemaking adventures -- at the Farm School for a tuneup before making the next twenty-eight batches.