Intermediate Cheesy Courage

May 4, 2015

Right after I had success on my second attempt at making paneer cheese, I used my momentum and placed my Amazon order for rennet – the ingredient needed for making the harder, melting cheeses. It arrived right away and sat in my fridge until I was ready.

During our rainy weekend a couple months ago, my courage was bolstered, and I was ready to learn how to use rennet for a tasty result – mozzarella. I’m so glad I hadn’t thoroughly read the recipe before I started because I might have been scared off.

Like with my paneer making, I used the Mother Earth News recipe for mozzarella. Unlike paneer, the acid is added at a low temperature (55 degrees F) and then the rennet is put in at 88 degrees. By the time it reached 100 degrees, the curds had pulled away from the sides and and the whey was clear (ish).

I took out the curds, hand pressed out any excess liquid, and they heated the whey in the pot up to 175, which for some reason made the whey more milky looking. I divided the curds into eighths, and put the first lump onto a slotted spoon and submerged it into the heated whey.

Dunking in Whey

Twenty seconds later I pulled it out and started to try to knead it. “Trying” being the operative word. It fell apart back into separate curds. I fought down panic and kept going – dunk in whey, knead. It held together better. Repeat. Each time it behaved more and more like the instructions said it would. Finally it was stretchy and dense.

Stretching Mozzarella

I had made cheese!

This then became my favorite part as I repeated the process seven more times. It was easier and better each time due to both increased experience and the temperature of the whey.

Finished Mozzarella

The end result was delicious, and the whole process took less than hour. Why buy store bought?

Mozzarella on Spaghetti Squash

What unusual item have you made from scratch? or Have you ever needed to build up courage before attempting to learn a new skill?

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