Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Day 8 - Cheese

Mozzarella Cheese

1 gallon milk, not ultra-pasteurized
1 1/2 tsp citric acid powder, dissolved in 1/4 cup room-temperature water
1/4 tsp liquid rennet, dissolved in 1/4 cup room-temperature water
1 tsp cheese (flake) salt or kosher salt

1. Pour the milk into a large pot. On medium-low heat slowly to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir slowly and continuously to keep from scalding.
2. Once the milk reached 55 degrees, pour in the citric acid mixture and stir well. Keep heating.
3. When the milk hits 88 degrees, add the rennet mixture and stir well. Right around this time the milk will start to thicken, and you'll see little white flecks sticking to your spoon as it starts curdling.
4. Once the milk is in the 90 degree range, it should be noticeably curdled. Stir very gently.
5. Once between 95 and 105 degrees, the curds will be thick. Turn off the heat once they start separating from the sides of the pot.
6. Let the curds rest for 5 minutes.
7. With a perforated or slotted spoon, ladle the curds into a bowl. Pour any excess whey back in the pot.
8. Using a microwave, heat the curds for 60 seconds. Drain off any excess whey, then fold the curds over once, then once again. This is to distribute the heat evenly
9. Microwave again for 30-40 seconds, pour off the whey
10. Sprinkle salt on cheese, fold over twice and back into the microwave for 30-40 seconds. Pour off any excess whey.
11. Stretch the cheese and fold it back on itself. If it tears its not hot enough; just repeat microwave process. Continue to stretch it a few times for a more stringy cheese.
12.Roll cheese into small balls. If you are going to refrigerate the cheese for later, drop it in a bowl of ice water to get the temperature down quickly. Otherwise, just dig in while it's still warm.

The Science of the Cheesy: Milk is made up of spherical globules of milk fat trapped in a three-dimensional matrix of milk protein, which is called casein (or casein micelles). Most of the milk-water, along with lactose and some minerals, are removed as liquid, called whey, during cheese making. In most milk, casein micelles are the milk proteins that contain a pH level of 6.5 and it carries a negative charge. We want a low acidity, i.e. higher pH, which results in a cheese that stretches and melts well. Heating the milk and adding food grade citric acid to the milk help reduce the pH level to between 5.2 - 5.4, which is what you want when making mozzarella cheese. Getting your milk’s pH right at the curd stage will mean you will have a higher success rate making mozzarella when you’re get to the heat and knead stage. When rennet is then introduced to the milk, the rennet collapses the outer layer, or walls, of the casein micelles.  This means there is nothing in between the casein micelles to keep them apart. They bind together, condense the fat cells and drain the whey, making a protein chain. The stretch properties of mozzarella depend on the interactions between casein micelles. The more the casein network is interconnected, the more the cheese stretches.

Finished product

Cheese shredded over top of pizza

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