Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mozarella, Ricotta and more...

Our Tomatoes, yum!

OK, there's not really any more, just mozzarella and ricotta.  We have been trying a little cheese making and this week I really wanted some fresh mozzarella so I could make Caprese Salad with all the tomatoes and basil from our garden.  I didn't want to buy it because I really like to eat organic. Not having a lot of cheese-making experience, I was a little apprehensive to waste a gallon of organic raw milk, but I decided to give it a try.  After looking at many recipes, I found this web site I thought their directions seemed the most reliable, and easy to follow. I tried really hard to follow the directions I only missed one thing! It says to let the curds cook for 30 min after you have stirred them, I stirred them, but somehow missed the next 30 min. The cheese actually turned out pretty well. The texture was good, and the flavor was ok, not perfect, but definetly good. Well worth the few hours it took to make. A few notes if you'd like to try it...
The recipe calls for rennet tablets, but I only had liquid and used 17 drops, which is the equivalent of 1/4 tablet, crushed. Always dilute the rennet in non-chlorinated water. The only problem I had with the recipe is that my mozzarella didn't really stretch like I think it should. It would kind of stretch...break....stretch....break. I tried putting it back in the warm water with about the same results. So either I maybe should have broken the clumps apart more, or not cooking the curds that extra 30 min. may have caused this....I will make it again and see if I can figure it out.
This is one of the four balls the batch made.

The other cool thing I learned from browsing cheese making sites, is that you can make ricotta with your left over whey. It is really quite easy and quick, and I felt a lot less wasteful using the whey for something besides watering the plants. Recipe is here
You don't get too much ricotta from a gallon of milk, but a couple batches would be enough for a lasagna.

Ok to end this long post I thought I would share my Caprese Salad recipe, as this is what started all the mozzarella making in the first place!
Caprese Salad
1-2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
8-10 basil leaves, or more if you like washed and chopped
1/4 Lb fresh mozzarella cut in bite size chunks
1/8 - 1/4 c. Balsamic vinegar to taste
2 tbs. Olive oil or sometimes I use hemp oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix everything together and let it sit refrigerated for an hour or so before serving.

Optional-while probably not traditional, sometimes we add chopped cucumber, green pepper, garlic even avocado or whatever we have on hand to this salad, yum! Made it the other day with beyond organics Persian cucumbers and it was super!

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