Yes, I’ve made several different homemade cheeses in the past, but for some reason I never quite considered them REAL cheeses. Cream cheese, ricotta, and paneer might be in the cheese family, but I would consider them more on the soft side. Today I made a hard or firm cheese and am totally thrilled with the results.
Mozzarella cheese is probably the easiest firm-cheese to make and takes only about an hour. Yes I have tons of cheese making experience, so this being the only firm-cheese I’ve ever made and seeing as it was easy, it’s got to be the easiest — right? Well let’s just say of all the cheeses I’ve ever made, hard or soft, this one was definitely the most fun and yes, easiest.
Some websites claim if you allow the cheese to cure longer at the various stages it will improve the quality and/or flavor of the cheese, but for my first effort, I am quite happy with the results. Sure it didn’t have much flavor, but honestly now, does mozzarella from the stores have much taste either. I’m sure that the fresh mozzarella from specialty markets that have been cured in brines or marinades for long periods of time are very flavorful (I’ve definitely got these methods on my list of things to do with my mozzarella), but for using on homemade pizza, chicken parmesan, or pasta dishes, this version was ideal. Best of all though — IT’S HOMEMADE! Can anything beat that!
Hubby questioned whether it was really worth the effort and told me that I’m trying too hard, but with this taking right around an hour of my time and the “kitchen high” I experienced as the soft curds became stretchy and pliable, I think I’ll be making lots of this in the future. There’s a lot to be said for those kitchen endorphins you know. So would it be fair to call them kitch-phins rather than endor-phins because they are produced in the kitchen rather than the body (endogenue)? Either way, the euphoria as I stretched the cheese into itself and formed it into a flat ball was more fun than I’ve had in the kitchen in a long time — and something I really needed.
The past couple of weeks I have suffered more gardening mishaps than any one person should have in an entire season, my kitchen time has been short and tainted with several epic failures, and having Hubby home all the time is proving to be more of a challenge for the kids than myself which I think is actually more stressful than if I were the one having an issue with him. I needed some fun and excitement to pull me out of the rut I was burying myself in and cheese making definitely did the job.
Although there are lots of websites with recipes for making mozzarella out there, I will eventually put the method I used on Simply Grateful Cooking, along with a few recipes of how I used the cheese. For now, I’m content just sharing my joy. And hey, if anyone has some advice on how to make the mozzarella more flavorful or have any recipes for brines or marinades they’d like to share, feel free. I’ve got another gallon of milk in the fridge in the basement calling out to me — “Make cheese with me! Make cheese with me!” so I’m sure I’ll be in the market for lots of suggestions.
Homemade anything is always a good thing — but homemade cheese, well that really takes things to a whole new level, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.