One of my goals for this year is to take more responsibility for creating my own food. Mostly this means growing fruit and vegetables in the garden, but I also want to perfect my bread-making technique, and experiment with making my own cheese. And so yesterday, I made my own mozzarella.
Everyone I’ve told has said ‘where did you get buffalo milk from?’ so I should probably clarify that I used cow’s milk. I was going to say that meant it wasn’t actual mozzarella, but then I found this, which explains that, while mozzarella was traditionally made from water buffalo milk, now most mozzarella is made from cow’s milk, so I needn’t explain myself at all.
Glad we’ve cleared that up.
It turns out mozzarella is pretty straightforward to make. A quick search found hundreds of recipes, all calling for rennet and some kind of citric acid. I was sure I’d seen citric acid in the local chemist, so after a bit of poking around, I just ordered liquid rennet from The Cheese Making Shop. It surprised me by arriving the next day, so I set out on my citric acid search.
Could I find it? No. The chemist didn’t have any, the man in the hardware shop told me to try the cheese shop, the man in the cheese shop told me to try the chemist, and the lady in the next chemist told me to try the Asian grocery shop, which was too far to walk.
Not to be defeated that easily, I found this recipe, which uses lemon juice.
Bizarrely, I asked in another chemist today, and the pharmacist told me they are no longer allowed to sell citric acid because people buy it to mix with other drugs to sell. Her advice? Buy it in bulk from any big supermarket. Because, it seems, drug dealers never do their own food shopping (or perhaps they have a hitherto unsuspected local food ethic and never shop in supermarkets…).
Anyway, the process is very simple. Warm the milk, mix in the lemon juice and rennet, leave to separate for half an hour.
At this point, you should follow the actual instructions, rather than doing what I did. I stopped – my (home made) pizza bases were getting a little too crispy and we were a little too impatient… As you can see, my mozzarella hasn’t quite reached the ‘smooth and silky’ stage.
I tried again today with the other litre of milk. This time I put rubber gloves on, which made it much easier to handle the hot cheese. I also took the sensible precaution of not making a pizza at the same time.
This version is in the fridge, along with some more pizza dough, waiting for tomorrow teatime.
Will I be doing it again? Definitely! It’s just 30 minutes of waiting, 30 minutes of draining, and then about 15 minutes of pretending you’re playing with plasticine. Easy to fit in around the rest of the dinner once you know what you’re doing.
Was it cheap? The little bottle of rennet cost £5.95 (including postage) for 50mls, and I used 5mls, so that’s 60p. I used our local milk, from Our Cow Molly, which isn’t cheap at £1.95 for two litres, but that made four 50g balls of cheese, and there’s about 1.5 litres of whey left, which I’ll use to make bread and maybe scones. I used 50ml of lemon juice, probably no more than a few pence.
So a grand total of £2.70 ish for 200g of home made, local milk mozzarella. Not as cheap as the super-cheap stuff, of course, but comparable to some of the more expensive brands. I certainly won’t be buying mozzarella again.
Next up – farmhouse cheddar. Best start making that cheese press…