Disclaimer: This blog post contains many graphic photos of cheese making, and is not recommended for the lactose intolerant or those who are leery of curds.
With that note of caution out of the way, I'm so pleased to tell you about the adventure I had with my sister, Erin, when she came to town the weekend before last! She said to me at some point on Saturday, hey, we should make something! And I said, like what? And then she gave me a cheese-making book, so that choice was easy. (Thanks, Erin!) We immediately skipped past the do-able cheese-making for beginners and gawked at the beautiful homemade bries; the goat cheeses with fluffy interiors and gooey exteriors that look an awful lot like Humbolt Fog; we talked about Cowgirl Creamery, and we even shared some "all-time best" cheese-eating stories. And then we realized that in order to make many of our most favorite cheeses, one needs about six-to-twelve weeks and many scary-sounding ingredients that have, like, numbers in them. (MM 100 powdered mesophillic starter anyone?)
And so we quickly came to our senses and decided to go back to chapter 1 and make some normal-people cheese. The kind that can be made in an afternoon and eaten that night. After all, we only had the weekend! So we chose two cheeses: Queso blanco from Artisan Cheese-Making at Home, and the microwave mozzarella from The Bust DIY Guide to Life.
The key to both recipes (and, I suspect, most cheese-making) is this: get some milk, heat it up, add acid to it, and watch it curdle!
And then I took lots of close-up shots of curds.
In the meantime, we needed to get our mozzarella on. The recipe in the Bust DIY Guide to Life is called "Around the Whey, Girl," and I am very proud to tell you that I resisted singing the LL Cool J song while making this cheese.
We got out our big guns: Citric acid and vegetable rennet, both purchased at Brooklyn Kitchen that morning. This time, we combined our gallon of milk and citric acid in a stockpot and heated it up to a mere 90 degrees. At that point, we added the rennet and stirred softly, while an explosion of curds started to form. (Again: SCIENCE.) The recipe tells you to let it sit for three to five minutes, the less time the softer the cheese. Since Erin likes her cheese hard (there should probably be an innuendo there), we let it sit for five.
And that, my friends, is the story of how two sisters make cheese. But guess what? You don't need to have a sister to make cheese! You just need a gallon of milk, some acid, and a dream.