Here is what remained of our fresh mozzarella when I went to make pizza last night. It had been in the fridge, in a bowl of water, for several days. Behind it you can see the kit for making it. In the near future I’ll do a post with how-to photos, but this will have to do for now!
Making your own cheese with this kit is really very easy, though I’d hate to do it alone. Having another pair of hands is very helpful. Mr. Pea and I made this ball of cheese together last week. It started as a gallon of milk. The butcher down the road gets shipments of milk from a local dairy, so I went there for it; a gallon was really inexpensive at $2.99. I poured the milk into a large stainless steel stockpot. The kit contains two main ingredients–citric acid and vegetarian rennet. A bit of each are dissolved in water and set aside. The acid is added to the milk right away; you heat to a specified temperature (the kit contains a thermometer), and then add rennet to make the curd. You let it sit, then heat it up, and stir your curd. Then the whey is drained off and saved to make pizza crust with a recipe in the kit; the remaining curd is microwaved to a specified temp, and then shaped into a ball, just like you’d get at the grocery store. Only better. And really, really cheap. Our local grocery store flyer has fresh mozzarella on sale this week for $6.99/lb; a $3 gallon of milk yielded just under a pound of cheese, and the kit itself makes 30 batches.
I liked the cheese best the day after we made it–fresh mozzarella is a very delicately flavored cheese, and it was a little more developed the next day or so. For several days I’d just pull the ball out of the fridge and cut off a hunk to nibble on. We also made three pizzas in addition to just munching on it. It gives pizza a different texture, sorta, than the shreds you buy at the store–because you really can’t shred it, you have to plunk little pieces down and you don’t get the cheesy mass pizza tends to be. I kind of prefer the cheesy mass on pizza and prefer eating the fresh mozz all by its lonesome, or, when the season changes, with fresh tomatoes and basil.
This time I used 1% milk; next time I’m going to try either 2% or whole and see if that changes anything. If you’ve ever thought about trying to make your own cheese, and you’ve got a friend to help you out or are much more coordinated than I am, you should give this kit a whirl.