Monday, September 27, 2010

advetures in cheese and butter

as part of my intrepid homesteading, i want to learn to make cheese. i've made ricotta before and that's pretty idiot proof but it's not *real* cheese. so this time around i was trying to make mozzarella and while i was at it, butter.
the butter is also idiot proof: take whipping cream, whip it way past the normal point until the fat separates from the milk, squeeze the liquid out (rinse in cold water to get the last of it), and add a bit of salt. fantastic! it goes on the fresh banana bread and is wonderful.
the mozza i was making was somewhat hampered by the fact that i can only get junket-brand rennet here and that's not really meant for cheese making, it's meant for custards and things. it is rennet, just rather weak. knowing this, i added quite a bit more then usual and let it set a lot longer then normal. i still ended up with a weak and sickly separation between curds and whey but i managed to drain it. unfortunately, in the heat-and-stretch stage, it became fairly apparent that i could not extract enough whey from the curds to make it a solid and it wasn't melting to enable stretching. all this tells me that (i'm pretty sure) FOREMOST IS ULTRA PASTEURIZING THEIR MILK AND NOT LABELING IT AS SUCH! this severely annoys me, not only because i now have ricotta instead of mozza, but because ultra pasteurizing milk not only damages the proteins, it also makes it significantly less healthy! it would be one thing if it said on it that they'd super heated it to the extent that NOTHING could ever possibly live in it from now till the twelfth of never. that would be ok, i would have been informed and would have chosen a non-dead milk because i know better then to try to make cheese with that crap and i also know that it's sad and pathetic compared to normal pasteurized or raw milk. i now have the choice between trying dairyland or lucurne (big companies, probably same story), attempting reconstituting powdered milk, or seeing if any of my farmers' markets carry real milk. *sigh*. i was really looking forward to the mozza too. i bought some beautiful kalamata olives and i had rosemary trisuits and the first fresh tomato of my garden and wine to make a nice little platter. instead i had leftovers. *sniff*. my only consolation is that i can make very good stuffed shells with the ricotta.

update: I DID IT! it started out like the first batch and i really thought lucurne ultra pasteurized as well so i upped the temp to turn it into ricotta and it started solidifying and getting all melty and stringy just like it's supposed to! finished it off and had some with garden tomatoes and basil, so fantastic and deeply satisfying. i even got a bit of ricotta out of the whey leftover. i probably would have gotten more if i'd followed all the directions despite the not-normal-looking outcome. this was certainly easy enough to make again so more experiments will follow. eventually i'm going to fashion a cheese press and take on something more ambitious like parmesan.

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