If you read my first posting for the cheese project, you know it didn't end well. This weekend, I decided I'd give it another shot. I'd remembered to pick up distilled water a while back, so now I just needed a gallon of milk. One of the cheese-making tips was to buy milk from a local dairy in the hopes that it was not ultra-pasteurized, so I drove to the next town to a grocer who I knew bought local milk. Between the cost of gas and the price of the milk, it would probably be cheaper to buy the mozzarella at the store, but there's really no challenge in that.
I carted the milk home and got to work. I must confess, the rennet and citric acid both dissolved much better in the cool distilled water, rather than the boiled tap water I used last time. I made sure to stir the rennet for a shorter period of time, popped the lid on, and sat down on the couch to wait out my five minutes. When the buzzer sounded, I lifted the lid and found a smooth layer of solid white lurking beneath the cover. Could I have done it? Did I make it to the next step in the cheese-making process? I poked the surface layer with my finger but felt little resistance. The instructions said it should be firmer, so I put the lid back on, figuring a few extra minutes might help.
After another five minutes, I checked the mixture again, this time with a wooden spoon. The spoon pushed the silky white layer to one side, revealing a pot full of icky-colored water. False alarm. I hadn't made cheese after all.
But all was not lost! As I dumped the pot full of chunky liquid down the drain, I noticed the chunks were much bigger this time, some several inches long. While the substance wasn't as solid as it should have been, I'd definitely made progress. I had gotten that much closer to successfully making cheese.
Now I'm off to the company's web site to see if there are any updates to the instructions or tips and tricks I don't know about. With any luck, I'll make my mozzarella before summer arrives, along with all those ripe tomatoes and fresh basil. Caprese salad, here I come!