Monday, December 21, 2009

Eating our curds and whey

After waiting a couple of weeks for the rennet to arrive in stock, I managed my first attempt at cheesemaking.

We spend a ton of money on milk products, but I'm not really sure what my motivation is for making cheese. I don't think it will really save money, and I don't know if the milk I'm using is local. Maybe just to see if I can. I've been making yohurt for a little while now successfully, but I don't actually like the yoghurt cheese that results from it. It's got a very sour yoghurt taste when I was hoping for cream cheese. This is just the next step.

This was very exciting. Mozzarella was supposed to take only 30 minutes and that's about how much time I thought I had on Saturday before getting together with Rosa for a Christmas-making session with my serger.

The rennet did not work as expected. After much time heating the milk on the stove, I googled "cheese making" and found that some people just add vinegar to the milk to curdle it. I did that and suddenly the milk starting forming curds. That was pretty cool.

By the time Rosa arrived I was just at the kneading stage but I wasn't able to handle the hot curds. I could have stopped and had a cottage cheese product, but I wanted mozzarella. Seriously, 30 minutes is supposed to turn milk into mozzarella. Ha. Not quite. Rosa apparently has nerveless hands and managed to knead it while it was really hot and when it cooled I took over . We managed mozza balls. Not the smooth, rubbery store-bought mozzarella, but definitely a cheese worth eating. I think the whole process took about 2 hours.
I didn't tell anyone at the choir party that they were eating my first attempt at cheese. There were no leftovers, so it was a presentable attempt. Next time I will try using the dough hook and doing it by machine. I do want it to be more smooth and slice-able. Still, I was pleased with the product but I wouldn't really call it mozzarella.

I was left with a pot full of whey. What do you do with whey? Sit on a tuffet and drink it?

I tried feeding it to my children. Not happening. I drank a bit too and don't blame them for turning up their noses. It's sour.

Apparently you can re-boil it and make ricotta (which means "twice boiled cheese" or something). My biggest pan of whey yielded a tiny amount of curdled something. It didn't look like ricotta so I strained it and tried kneading it again.

It made this tiny amount of cheese that actually does taste a bit like a spreadable cream cheese. I like it, but it wasn't worth the effort.

The rest of the whey I'm using as the liquid in my bread recipe.

I've got enough rennet to make many gallons of milk into cheese, so I'll be trying again. If I can get successful with it, I'll keep at it and start flavouring it with herbs and stuff.

And then Rosa and I got on with what we'd planned for the afternoon. Far from the prying of eyes of her children and the butchering of deer in her own kitchen, we worked together on making pajama bottoms.
Four hours = four pairs of pants and...
16 matching hankies that will gross them out! She hasn't converted her family to hankies, so beyond giving them as a joke, they will likely be returned to her for her own use. I love flannel hankies.

Could she have gone to Walmart to buy pajama pants for $10 each? Yes, but the hours spent with me are priceless!


Coralee said...

oooh, loving those pj's and hankies! And Cheese!?!?! You are ambitious!

Rosa said...

Absolutely right!!

Teddi Taylor said...

Impressive! One day I might make the cheese... we'll see. Will you send me your resources?

Anonymous said...

I've got the same problem as you - what to do with all the leftover whey. I've been using it in soup, and it goes great instead of cream in some things such as wilted swiss chard. I'm thinking pancakes would be another good place for whey. And the rest I froze for future inspirations.