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Cooking Day Part III: Mozzarella (and Tomatoes)

August 1, 2011

Our go-to mozzarella source, Rosario’s Deli, is closed for vacation this week. This was the push I needed to try making my own own. I received a cheese-making kit for my birthday, and though I made ricotta once, I hadn’t yet tackled the slightly more complex mozzarella.

The kit came with rennet tablets, citric acid, and cheese salt. The only other ingredients are water and milk. I bought one gallon of Battenkill Valley whole milk, a brand they just started carrying at our local organic store. The quality of milk is an important factor in the taste of the cheese.

Instructions, thermometer, citric acid and rennet dissolving in water, milk jug.

Milk ready to go in a stainless steel pot (the one piece of equipment I had to purchase).

To make the cheese you heat the milk and citric acid solution to a certain temperature and then add rennet to cause the curds and whey to separate. Once separated, you drain the whey and heat the curds so that you can stretch them. The stretching was the part I had the most difficulty with. I couldn’t get the cheese to stretch like taffy the way it was supposed to. Nevertheless, the final product was delicious. It was softer than most mozarella and very creamy.

Curds and whey.

Curds.

Final Product!

The mozzarella made a great accompaniment for the tomatoes from the garden. On Saturday we picked a lot of cherry tomatoes as well as some of the slightly larger varieties to take out to Jeremy’s parents. We combined them with the mozzarella and some basil from the garden for a salad.  As you can see in the picture below, a lot of the tomatoes have been splitting. From what I’ve read, this occurs when the tomatoes mature during a dry period and then expand suddenly during heavy rainfall. This makes sense with the recent weather. After a long heat spell, there were a few severe thunderstorms last week.

Saturday’s Tomato Harvest

Salad

Yesterday evening we had some friends over and served the second half of the cheese with pita chips and our first Black Krim tomato of the season. The Black Krim and Ace 55 are our largest tomato varieties, and they are just beginning ripen.

Mozzarella
Black Krim Tomato
Black Krim sliced for serving.
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