I feel a little bad for always talking about the tornado, but… man, it’s really taken over our lives. In 2 days, it’ll be 9 months, and the repairs are still pretty far from over.
This, however, has been a great weekend! As my husband churned out new shelves for the cabinetry, I was able to start unpacking the kitchen stuff. Everything just sort of got thrown into the boxes after we surveyed the damage, so we could demolish the kitchen. 9 months of plastic cutlery and paper plates later… progress is wonderful. I swear I heard the hallelujah chorus when I unearthed the cutlery set at the bottom of one of the boxes!
|As is usually the case when I’m in a great mood, we had some fun in the kitchen yesterday. Homemade, fresh cheese for breakfast. Yes!
A couple weeks after the tornado, we attended a cheese workshop at a local brewing supply store, which is where we learned this basic technique. It was a weird thing to spend our time on, at the time.. But we needed to just get away from it all. We socked the knowledge away til now, and yes – it was worth the wait!
This method takes less than an hour to do, start to finish. (About 30 minutes of “active” time), and doesn’t take much in the way of ingredients. You will need rennet and citric acid, which are available at specialty cooking stores, or home brewing / cheese making supply shops – and only cost a couple of dollars each.
Buy a fair amount of the citric acid – not only will you find this recipe becoming an easy “go-to”, I’ll be posting more recipes using citric acid. (For instance, Homemade Wine Slush Mix!)
I’ll be honest – I’d barely had my finished, still warm braid of cheese on the plate, before we ravenously tore into it. It was like a scene straight out of Jurassic Park or something – and I’m pretty sure at least one of us made raptor -like noises at each other while tearing away at our cheese with our bare hands.
Oh, and yes – the cheese was squeeky. SO good! You should definitely give this a try sometime!
What you need
1/4 tsp lipase, optional*
1/2-3/4 cup unchlorinated water, divided
1 gallon of milk – NOT “ultra pasteurized – fresher is better.
1 1/2 tsp citric acid
1/4 tsp Liquid rennet (or 1/4 rennet tablet, crushed)
1 tsp cheese salt (optional)
If using lipase, dissolve it in 1/4 cup water, allow to sit for 15 minutes.
Pour milk into a large, very clean pan. Heat over medium, until it reaches 55F
While the milk is heating, dissolve citric acid in 1/4 cup of water, and rennet in another 1/4 cup of water. Keep the two (or three, if using lipase!) solutions straight – label if you have to!
Once cheese reaches 55F, stir in the citric acid solution. The milk will start to curdle a little.
Add lipase – if using – and stir well. Continue to heat milk, stirring often.
This is what the cheese will look like after a few minutes. Continue heating to 88F. When milk comes to 88F, add rennet solution and stir VERY well – be sure to use some up and down motions as well as “around”, to distribute the rennet!
Continue to heat to 105F, stirring gently. The curds will separate from the whey.
Between 100 and 105F, the liquid will no longer look milky – instead it will be clear and yellowish. When this happens, you’re ready for the next step!
This is ready.
|Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove all of the curds from the whey, transferring it to a microwave safe bowl. Once all of the curd is transferred, press with a spoon to force out excess whey. Drain any whey visible in the bowl.
Microwave the curd for about a minute on high. If you don’t have a high pain tolerance, clean rubber gloves will come in handy for this next step.
GENTLY fold the curd over itself a few times, trying not to burn yourself. The idea is to distribute the heat, NOT to beat the life out of it.
I got a little nuts with it, and went into “fondant making” mode… which is why mine turned out less than smooth. Whoops! It still tasted awesome!
Microwave for another 30 seconds, drain whey, fold over a few more times. Repeat one more time, and add salt if you’re using it.
By this time, the cheese should be hot enough to stretch. Stretch and fold a few times – as if you were stretching taffy – until the cheese is smooth and shiny.
Once you’ve determined that either your cheese is smooth/shiny enough, or you’re just hungry and tired of burning your hands… do with it as you please. Pinch it into small balls, roll it in a log, or roll THREE logs and braid them, like we did.
This lasted all of about 1 minute.
If you want to have some fun with it, pull the cheese into a long, thin square or rectangle. Cover about half of it with whatever you want – we used pepperoni, as we had some on hand – but basil and/or prosciutto are akso popular.
Tightly wrap it up, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for about 1 hour to set, before slicing.
Full disclosure: This wrap used only about half the batch, as we snarfed the rest before deciding to get creative with it.
Done. SO good.
* Lipase can be added for flavor, but is entirely optional. It also makes the cheese a bit softer!
Wanna see the process done up as a video? We’ve got you covered!