Last weekend I took a cheese making class with some friends where we learned to make mozzarella cheese. The instructor was odd, to put it mildly. She was very scattered and flighty and uncomfortable presenting to people and really should not be teaching a class about anything. Thankfully, the group I was with made it enjoyable and when the instructor went into one of her long winded, totally unrelated stories….we just started chatting or went and filled our wine glasses. We did learn how to make mozzarella cheese and we had plenty to talk about over lunch after the class. Like how the instructor kept saying “rennit is rennit” or “and so….” or “push away the whey”. We were also entertained by the fellow student who said “shh shh shh” when she laughed, so every time she was laughing you thought she was hushing you.
We didn’t make enough cheese to take any home, and I was excited to try some fresh mozzarella on my homemade chili, so I got all the ingredients needed to make a batch when I got home. Unfortunately, I forgot to add the rennit and the batch did not turn out…bummer. I guess I shouldn’t have been making chili and my very first batch of mozzarella at the same time.
Today, I decided to try again. I remembered to add everything and ended up with more cheese than the crazy cheese lady and things were going very well indeed.
I should have stopped while I was ahead.
First off, I learned that if you want to keep the whey after it separates from the cheese, it is best to have a funnel to pour the whey from the ginormous bowl to the teeny tiny neck of the milk jug. Second, I learned that if you want your cheese making to be successful, follow the instructions you learned from crazy cheese lady and don’t try to go beyond those instructions. The crazy cheese lady drained the cheese and stopped there. I wanted to go further. I wanted the shiny, pretty ball of cheese you buy in the store. So, I tried to cut the cheese (snicker) and give it a hot water bath in order to form it into the ball. As soon as I poured the hot water on the cheese, it turned into something that looked more like cottage cheese and less like mozzarella. Dammit all to hell. All the instructions I read said to “knead it like bread”, but there was nothing to knead….just a clumpy mess of blah. Discouraged, I turned to Dr. Google and searched for an answer. I could find no answer. So, I poured it back through the cheese cloth and hung it up again.
So, who knows. I may end up with mozzarella in the morning. I may end up with crap. As I went to put this giant pot in the fridge, I noticed that the pheasant breasts I have in there waiting to make pheasant tortilla soup (yum-o) had somehow leaked juice all over. Here is lesson number three of the evening….when you have a bowl covered with saran wrap, there is a chance the juice will seep down the saran wrap and make a mess in your fridge. 9pm and I’m cleaning the fridge. Fun. After swapping out the ever-so archaic saran wrap for the high tech wrap that sticks to everything, I put the bowl an a plate. Double coverage, baby.
I would love to post a successful cheese story some day. Maybe even with instructions and a recipe. Today, sadly, is not that day. Maybe the pheasant tortilla soup will be worthy of a success story…but that would be no fun to read about would it?!
After letting the cheese drain all night, I ended up with something resembling ricotta. Lasagna is in our future.