Tag Archives: mozzarella

Simple Mozzarella

Who doesn’t love soft, fresh cheese with sun kissed tomatoes and bright basil? Throw in some fresh bread and a little olive oil…now imagine that with your own warm, homemade mozzarella! You can make it and have it ready in an hour. Check it out!

mozzarella knot

herbed warm mozzarella tied into a simple knot

Ingredients:

1 gallon of milk

1 ½ tsp citric acid (to purchase citric acid or a complete mozzarella kit visit our SHOP.)

¼ Rennet Tablet

1 tsp cheese salt (or to taste, herbs optional)


Supplies:

Large pot- at least 6 quart

Butter Muslin (fine cheesecloth)

Colander

Large Slotted spoon

Thermometer

microwaveable bowl

Rubber gloves or large spoon


YIELD- 1 ½ lb (2 big fists)


Ok, less than an hour to fresh Mozzarella!

If you’d like to see this process in step by step photos, check out my Facebook Album. The only part you don’t see is the heating of the curds before folding and kneading, you will choose microwave or hot water bath but the curd handling is the same.

Step 1- Dissolve ¼ rennet tablet into 1 cup of cool, chlorine-free water. Stir and set aside. Wrap the remaining pieces of tablet and store in the freezer.

Step 2- Mix 1 ½ teaspoons citric acid into 1 cup of cool, chlorine-free water until dissolved.

Step 3- Pour 1 gallon of milk into your pot. Pour the citric acid solution in and stir thoroughly. Heat to 90°F, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

Step 4- At 90°F slowly stir in the rennet solution with a gentle up and down motion for approximately 30 seconds. Continue to heat to 105°F (110°F if you will use the water bath).

Step 5- Your curds could already show clear signs of coagulation- curds would look like shiny yogurt, you’d see a separation between curds and whey and the curds would pull from the sides of the pot.

– If so, stir very gently for another minute and turn off the heat. Skip down to step 6.

– If the curd doesn’t look like shiny custard or yogurt but looks like clumps of melted cheese floating in yellow liquid, you’re still in good shape. Skip down to step 6.

– If you don’t see any of these signs and your whey is still milky instead of yellow, heat a little more (110°F max) while gently moving the curds around with your spoon. You are now cooking the curds and expelling whey. If you reach 110°F and still don’t see any signs, let the pot sit off the heat for 15-45 minutes. Skip down to step 6 when you have coagulation.

– If your milk did not form a curd at all, you may have some unlabeled ultra-pasteurized milk on your hands. Try another brand but follow this through- cheese has a way of working out!

Step 6- Ladle your curds into a heat-resistant bowl. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the curds for stretching later or move on to the heating and stretching steps.

Note- If you will use the “Water Bath” (no microwave) method, heat your whey to 185°F and read the following instructions in bold. For microwave instructions, continue below the bold print.

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No Microwave? No problem! Follow these instructions:

When your water/whey bath hits 185°F (no hotter or you’ll overcook your curds!) take the pot off the stove.

Gently shape half of your curds into a ball (as much as possible) and dip into the whey for 1-3 minutes or until your curds hit 135°F (heated to the core). Put on your rubber gloves, lift the ball of curds out of the whey and proceed with salting, stretching and shaping as detailed below in steps 11 and 12 (you may also stretch with a spoon in your heat-resistant bowl).

Repeat on all curds- more than once if necessary for a smooth ball of cheese. You may need to reheat your whey if you’re slow- remember, no hotter than 185°F! If temperamental curds don’t stretch sometimes, do not despair. Just fold, salt, and shape warm curds into balls. Practice, practice- enjoy!

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Step 7- Ladle your curds into a large microwaveable bowl. Put on your rubber gloves or use a large spoon for steps 7-12. Gently hold back the curds while you pour off whey (don’t press much).

Step 8- Heat the bowl in the microwave for 1 minute.

Step 9- Gently use a spoon to fold the curds over several times and evenly distribute the heat. Drain off any whey as above.

Step 10- Microwave for another 30 seconds. Drain again and knead the curd gently- try stretching. It must be 135°F to stretch properly. If it isn’t hot enough, microwave for another 30 seconds.

Step 11- Add your salt (I like 1.5 tsp or so) plus any herbs and work into the cheese by stretching and folding, stretching and folding…the more you work the curd, the firmer the cheese will be.

Step 12- Stretch the cheese until it is smooth. Shape into a ball or get creative! This mozzarella is best eaten immediately but you can store it covered. Do NOT store in water or whey or it will get slimy and disintegrate. You can however, dunk your shaped mozz into ice water for just a few minutes to retain it’s shape. Otherwise, its own heat can flatten it. Use within 1 week.

Two free Queso Blanco demonstrations coming your way!

Hello. I love the Montavilla Farmers Market! It’s in my neighborhood, I used to shop there and now I have little stall there most Sundays. Even though I can be a little shy (read- antisocial) normally, I have been enjoying talking to would-be and experienced cheesemakers tremendously. At this point people who bought a kit last week come and report on their experience- it’s so fun, such a community feel! This small but perfectly complete market is a treat- I hope you can check it out sometime (it will extend into Oct and Nov)!

A good day to come by is Sun. Oct. 4th when I will be demonstrating Queso Blanco with the market’s resident chef Kathryn.

Queso Blanco Shaped in a Ricotta Mold

Queso Blanco Shaped in a Ricotta Mold

We will make the cheese from start to finish and use market goodies to create a savory and sweet way to sample this versatile cheese (she will be working on a mostarda? or chutney of some sort!). It’s at 10:30am and free. I know you will LOVE this market too!

Then as a reminder, I will lead this very same demo at The Wedge Cheese Festival on Saturday Oct. 3 at 11am. I will be browning some queso in olive oil this day- you’ll be hooked…

Free class, free samples! How often does that happen?

You’re not dreaming, it’s a cheese FESTIVAL!

The Wedge Cheese Festival is taking place in Portland, OR on October 3, 2009! How amazing is that?

Build your own grilled cheese sandwich!

Build your own grilled cheese sandwich!

Dozens of cheesemakers from the Pacific Northwest will
gather (with samples no doubt!), seminars will be offered, there will be
a build your own grilled cheese sandwich station and yours truly will
lead a Queso Blanco demo at 11am. Don’t miss it!

Mozzarella Demonstration- Free at Foster and Dobbs!

Hi all, please join me at the cheesemaker’s group on Wed. September 9 at 7:30pm at Foster and Dobbs here in Portland, OR where I will give a simple mozzarella demo. All are welcome, there is no charge, it’s just an informal skill-share.

Yes, you too can make this!

Yes, you too can make this!

I’m excited to announce that Foster and Dobbs Authentic Foods now carries Urban Cheesecraft DIY Goat Cheese Kits and Paneer and Queso Blanco Kits.

They are an A M A Z I N G specialty foods and cheese shop, think organic chocolate, delicious olives, smoked salts and even, yes, saffron pollen, all from small, artisanal producers. Can you imagine a Foster and Dobbs picnic? Um, I can!

So easy, so beautiful…so franch! Chevre is pretty no?

I just had to share these lovely goat cheese photos with you. These 3 little cheeses are the yield you get with the recipes I include in the goat cheese kit. A half-gallon of goat milk, a 1/4 C of vinegar, a variety of herbs and spices and you have a cheese tasting for several friends!

Throw another chunk of cheese on the barby! Huh?

So I went to my first BBQ of the season and as I do for most get-togethers, I decided to make cheese. You may already know that I often pan-fry Paneer and Queso Blanco (because they don’t melt!) but I don’t often grill them…of course I had to try. Though my cheese wasn’t very tasty today (I tried to multi task and allowed the milk to boil, a lot, I know better but it snuck up on me..email is distracting, time warp!), it was quite firm which made it great for the grill.

I had a michelada (mexican beer with lime juice and chili/salt mix) or two at the BBQ so I didn’t take photos of the results for you but I did take pictures of the prep and build up. Imagine toasty cheese cubes with grilled red peppers and potatoes, drizzled with rosemary, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper…yum! Don’t leave this on the grill too long or your cheese will get very dry- I did that.

Apartment Sauerkraut

APARTMENT SAUERKRAUT (I know, it’s not cheese but it’s preservation by fermentation- very related 🙂

I came up with this because all sauerkraut recipes I found as I researched called for at least 5 heads of cabbage and a 5 gallon bucket…with all the projects and a business that I run at once, I don’t have space! Nor do I want that much sauerkraut for two people.

As usual, the stuff I enjoy making is easy and foolproof. So, keep in mind that sauerkraut is one of the easiest of farm skills. The Pennsylvania dutch left it for the children to make, you CAN make it!

apt. kraut set up

apt. kraut set up

Here’s my apt. kraut recipe:

1 small head of cabbage (green, red or mixed for fun color!)

2 tablespoons of salt (I used kosher flakes)

1 teaspoon celery seed, freshly ground black pepper and I LOVED red pepper flakes (you can try any dry herbs)

1 cylindrical gallon container (can be glass, ceramic or food grade plastic), I used the plastic cream cheese container you see in the picture, similar to a yogurt container but bigger

A small plate or what I used, a quart sized yogurt lid (this should fit snugly inside so that the cabbage on the edge doesn’t rot)

A weight or what I used, another cream cheese container filled with water (it has to fit inside the other- lid on)

Cheesecloth or hanky to keep out dust and bugs

Rubber band

Okay, shred your cabbage or cut finely. Mix it with the herbs and salt by tossing it all in a large bowl. Now scoop in by the handful and push down between scoops.  At the end you want to really tamp it down with your fist or a tool like a potato smasher. Now place the plate/lid inside on top of your cabbage. Follow with the weight/heavy container.

The idea is that the pressure and salt will draw out the cabbage’s liquid. The salty brine will preserve your cabbage and keep it from rotting until lacto-fermentation starts- you’re preserving! Congratulations! Along the way you are making live food (micro-organisms, much like live yogurt cultures) that is good for you! Check out Wild Fermentations by Sandor Katz if you want to learn more about this.

Wait, you’re not done yet! Cover your contraption with the cloth, then rubber band it. Push down on the weight every two hours that day, you should get a brine within a couple of hours. The cabbage must be covered in it to prevent rotting. If you have some dry old cabbage on your hands, just make a salty solution and cover the cabbage to help it along.

Keep pushing down morning, noon and night (I do it when I wake up, after I get home and before I go to bed) for two more days. Once you know that you have a nice and juicy concoction, leave it for at least 2 weeks.  You can start testing for taste (look for a tang) and skimming any pink “scum” or even mold off the top. It should be just fine below that layer (all the recipes warn about this but I have never had it happen). Trust your senses, does it smell bad, off, rotten? A slightly gassy cabbage smell and/or pickle smell is ok.

this is the early stage that I liked best, like tangy coleslaw! see those pepper flakes? yum!

this is the early stage that I liked best, like tangy coleslaw! see those pepper flakes? yum!

As far as how long you wait, I like the early crunchy stages, others think true krauts are translucent and very soft. It’s all about your taste. Sauerkraut was created so that cabbage could last almost an entire year so you have some wiggle room! I jarred (just a jar with a lid, no canning skills needed) and refrigerated at several stages just to try. You can do this too, and it’s nice to keep some of the previous batch to mix in as a starter with the next batch- it gets a head start!

jar of delicious kraut

jar of delicious kraut

This recipe made three 16-20 ounce sized jars, plenty for us! Oh, your place can smell a little “gassy” while you make this. It’s cabbage, what do you expect?! I either get used to it or it lessens as the ferment ages. ps. I’ve tasted friends’ delicious krauts that included garlic, daikon radish, ginger, and even juniper berries, have fun experimenting!

Find cheese kits and cheese making supplies in Portland stores now!

Good news! If you’re in Portland, you can purchase a kit at these Portland, Oregon stores. I will keep adding as the list grows. If you own a store or want to suggest one, I’d love to hear about it. Enjoy and always come back for updates on the kits etc. thanks!

 is a cute kit like this in your future?

is a cute kit like this in your future?

Stores:

http://www.albertagrocery.coop/ (all 3 kits- moz/ricotta, paneer/queso blanco, fresh goat cheese)

http://www.urbanfarmstore.com/ (moz/ricotta kit by June 5)

cheese talk on the radio!

Hello cheesemakers! Just wanted to let you know something kind of funny, I’m going to be interviewed about cheese making and my cheese kits on a small Internet radio station this Thursday, May 21. It’ll be a show called Chocolate Covered Bacon through http://artisanshoppe.com/, 3pm Pacific Time, 6pm Eastern Time.

Click install or listen live depending on your set-up and you should be good. It won’t be riveting or anything but it’s kinda cool especially if any of you want to promote your handmade goods too. They’re all about artisans of all kinds. Tell them I sent you!

Also, I’d love to hear from those of you who have already received and tried your cheese kits. Please post on this blog or email me with questions, ideas, feedback, testimonials etc. Thanks and happy cheese making,

making mozzarella cheese with kids- it works!!

I recently gave a cheese kit to some friends in Austin. I was staying with them and since they’re entrepreneurial foodie types I thought they’d enjoy one. They did, but they soon asked for a demo and offered me the assistance of their three kids!! Gulp. Ranging from 9-2 years old…a challenge to say the least.

I was concerned that one, it would be too passive of an activity…step one, let’s watch milk heat up slowly…my other concern was that when we got to the stretching part they’d burn themselves.

Well, I’m happy to say that they remained pretty much interested (though the two year-old “multi-tasked” in other rooms halfway through) and we did indeed end up with mozzarella that they all took to school the next day :). As a bonus, no one burned themselves though we did sacrifice a good stretch for that bonus! Here we are hard at work, note my concerned look!

ps. Ideally I’d start kids with queso blanco- although it is not as hands-on, it’s faster, fool proof and does not involved dunking your hands into super hot water or stretching curds! check out my recipes section