Saturday, May 26, 2007

Saturday Foodie Fun: Cheese Making!

Every few years I go through a fit where I decide I am not going to eat anything unless it’s (almost completely) made from scratch. In the past this has meant homemade crackers, ice cream, and mayonnaise, amongst other things. The latest incarnation of this fit has played out in three ways:

I have gotten back on the weight loss bandwagon. I refuse to give up eating things I enjoy eating, so the key to this for me is exercise and strict portion control. In the pursuit of portion control I find myself buying/consuming a lot of pre/individually packed things. This leads to more “junk” food than I would care to consume, and huge amounts of packaging going into the trash.

While I have no intention of giving up my omnivorous ways, I seem to have developed an interest in raw foods (and am currently searching for a Vita-Mix high speed blender for less than $400 (!!))

Making cheese! I love cheese and have dabbled in making Paneer in the past (very very easy.) I splurged and bought two cheese making kits from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, the 30 Minute Mozzarella & Ricotta Kit and the Gourmet Home Dairy Kit (for some reason I got it in my head that I should be making my own cream cheese, which I eat on a mini-bagel for breakfast nearly every morning.)

So this morning I went to the Co-op (and I hiked the mile up the hill and back instead of driving!) and bought 1.5 gallons of local, organic 2% milk (in returnable, reusable glass bottles) and set off on making some cheese.

As I don’t have a microwave I used this recipe for the Mozzarella. And as a first go, I think it turned out well. I used 2% in an attempt to be diet conscious, and while I was looking for that soft creamy “fresh” mozzarella, what I got was more like an excellent “hard” grating mozzarella. I need to use a little more salt in the future as it provides all of the flavor for the cheese (and I need to experiment with some Lipase.) I made one large ball, but I think I will shape it into homemade string cheese sticks in the future (one of my favorite (if redundantly packaged) snacks.)

In my stumbling around with the Mozzarella for the first time I lost half of the whey down the drain. But I used this recipe to make a very small quantity of yummy traditional whey only Ricotta.

I’m going to use the other ½ gallon of milk to make some Cream Cheese (tonight, as it needs to set for 12 hours)…

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