Part three of the new food resolution is our attempt to make homemade mozzarella cheese. We eat a lot of cheese, and mozzarella is a common ingredient in a lot of my recipes. So while not a new food, we had never tried to make it ourselves.
It is surprisingly easy to make your own cheese at home. The easiest kind to make is a fresh cheese like ricotta. For ricotta, you need just whole milk, cream, and some lemon juice. Mozzarella is a bit more complicated and takes some specialized ingredients; rennet, and citric acid, some recipes for it will also call for calcium chloride as well. It’s also a good idea to have a very good thermometer as well, such as a specialized candy thermometer.
Like so many of these new food adventures, when I say “we”, I really mean Ms. J. I didn’t really do a whole lot in the making of the cheese, but I did track down the rennet, citric acid, and calcium chloride.
It turns out that finding a supplier of rennet is just about impossible here in New Hampshire. No local store had it. No gourmet food store, food making supply store, or even beer making supply store had it. I tried our local organic food supermarket where I spoke with several people who had no idea what rennet was until I explained that it was an ingredient used in making cheese. ‘Oh, ok, you should talk to Brian, he’s the cheese expert, I’ll go get him.’ Brian soon appears and explains that the best way to get rennet is to contact a local farmer to see if he has a sheep stomach available soon that he could give you. You then can make your own rennet at home from that sheep stomach. How exactly you make the rennet I have no idea since I became a bit nauseous listening to Brian the cheese expert explain how to make rennet at home using some kind of giant sheep stomach grater, so I stopped listening to him after a few seconds. We might be do it yourself food makers, but we’re not quite as hard core as Brian is.
I finally was able to find it on the internet. Of course I should have just tried that to begin with, but even there it was not very easy to find. I finally found it on a home sausage making ingredient website, which is where I found not just the rennet, but also the citric acid, and a lot of other very specialized stuff. And yes, at some point we plan on making sausages too, so I went ahead and bought some of their sausage making ingredients as well.
I found all the ingredients before Christmas, so guess what Ms. J received as a gift ? Nothing says ‘Merry Christmas’ like a bottle of rennet, thermophilic starter culture, citric acid, mesophilic starter culture, and calcium chloride!!
Anyway, I had little to do with the making of the cheese, I was occupied with shoveling snow, and then trying to fix the broken toilet supply line that conveniently broke during last week’s blizzard. I do know that Mr. C had a great time helping to make the cheese since I at least heard Ms. J and Mr. C making the cheese as I tried in vain to fix the leaking pipe in the bathroom. I had reached the limit of my do it yourself skills and had to call in the plumber on that one. Once the cheese was made we had to decide how to use it. In a lasagna, or some other dish ? We couldn’t wait that long to eat it, so we just had it with slices of tomato and olive oil. It was very good, with a much fresher taste than store bought cheese. This new food gets a five star rating.
For a recipe, I would suggest checking out the book ‘Artisan Cheese Making at Home’ by Mary Karlin. Or you can check out the best food blog I know: Jovina Cooks Italian . She writes in such detail that it helped to inspire us to try this to begin with, she really does make it look easy, as long as you can find that rennet.