Sunday, May 24, 2009

Powdered Milk Mozzarella!

Dear Georgia,
The first thing I ever read about cheese making was how sterile everything needed to be. I have to say that turned me off for a lot of years. I finally decided to give it a whirl, sterile environment or not. Nothing in my house is sterile. Even if I bleach things or sanitize them in the dishwasher, as soon as they come out they are no longer sterile. But neither were the farm kitchens of a hundred years ago, and they managed to make cheese. So as clean as I can get it is good enough. At least for Mozzarella and Ricotta.

Make a gallon of milk using 15 -16 cups of water and 5 ½ cups milk powder
This will (of course)give you a fat free cheese. It doesn't quite melt the same way as full fat water buffalo milk mozzarella. You can add fat to it by adding a pint of cream to the milk or a couple of sticks of melted butter.

Mix 1 ¼ tsp citric acid powder with ½ cup of water. Stir into milk.

Heat milk to 88 degrees

This is rennet. You can find it by the jello in the grocery store
Inside the box are 8 (I think) little foil wrapped tablets.

For this recipe you will need 1/2 a tablet. Break one disk of rennet in half and dissolve it in ¼ cup of water.

Now for the tricky part: let this mixture sit undisturbed for a LONG time. 
Traditional recipes say 1-2 hours, but powdered milk takes longer. At least 5, but I have had great luck with overnight.

This is what the coagulated curd looks like after 6 hours or so.
It is pretty soft and not what you would call a clean break. You can get it to clean break status by letting it sit longer (like overnight). For a great picture of what "clean break" means zip over here: clean break picture and discussion

Incidentally, I have made mozzarella cheese when it has only gotten to the coagulated stage (pictured above) and when I have waited the 18 hours to get it to a clean break. I didn't notice any difference between the finished cheeses. Perhaps it is just something about using powdered milk with no extras.

Oh! and on another side link over here for a discussion about how to use powdered milk to make cheese. This was my jumping off point, but I couldn't find all the extra stuff they needed, so I just started to wing it and it seems to work. At least for mozzarella and ricotta.

I recommend a thorough reading of both of these sites, but in the end, just jump in and try, because it is not as complicated as either one makes it seem.

Cut the curd.
 Again, link to that first web page and there is a great picture of how to do that. Basically, you run a long knife down to the bottom of the pot making inch long strips in one direction, then do it in the perpendicular direction. Then if you want to cut at a 45 degree angle in the pot you can do that too.

Over low heat, stir curds and whey gently.
As the temperature rises to about 100 degrees the curds will start to solidify and separate more from the whey

The curds and whey will start to really separate and the curds will melt and clump together like so.
This will take about an half an hour.

Strain the curds through a few layers of cheese cloth or a clean tea towel.

It looks like this.
You will turn this into ricotta tomorrow. (Oh, yes you will!)

Salt your curds. 1 TBS salt, well mixed in.
I always forget this step and it makes the cheese taste really rather bland.

Now, for making the cheese into balls. It is another 2 handed project so no pictures. But scroll down for a video of how some other guy does it.

Put about 1/3 of the curds into a microwave safe bowl.

 Microwave for about a minute or so (until the cheese melts.) Be careful! It is hot!

Next stretch the cheese into a smooth round ball like a loaf of bread.

Put the finished ball into a bowl of cold water to solidify.

Best step: use your cheese!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Direct Acid Cheese

Dear Georgia,
I should know by now that authors and publishers are normal people and can be nice(after all, half my family seems to be authors, illustrators, or publishers and I think you are pretty nice), but it always seems to surprise me when I bump into it again.
This recipe comes directly from a book called Natural Meals In Minutes by Rita Bingham. When I was preparing for my Relief Society demonstration I emailed her publisher and asked for permission to reprint the recipe in the hand out I was making. And THEY SAID YES! Wow!
As my public thank you to them, let me recommend their book! I do so highly. It is a great book for taking the long term storage off the shelf and using it on a regular basis. You can find it here:

Start with two cups of water

This is usually what I use to measure 2 cups of liquid

You will also need 1 1/2 cups of powdered milk

And 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
I actually just use the juice from 1 lemon so I don't have halves hanging about.

Mix the water and milk powder in a pot
Warm over medium heat.

Have a sweet pair of helping hands squeeze the lemon
Thank you Lily. My hands have been pretty scratched lately from pruning the rose bushes.

Now the tricky part -- there are no pictures because you have to pour and stir at the same time. Only 2 hands here.

Pour the lemon juice around the edges of the pot and stir it into the warm milk.

It will start to curdle and look pretty gross.

A better shot at gross

Now let it rest for a couple of minutes
The curds will start to separate from the whey.

Drain your curds

Now rinse them. First with warm water, and then with cold water to firm them up.

You can mix them with a little yogurt or buttermilk for a cottage-cheese-like mixture. It is actually great as a cottage cheese substitute.
Or you can compress the curds in a strainer with a weight on top (a small plate with a couple of cans on top) to make a fresh semi-soft "farmer's cheese".

Here is a great video of the whole process. She uses white vinegar and homogenized milk, but it is the same process.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Yogurt Cheese

Yogurt cheese is used in middle eastern dishes, but it can be a great way to extend the use of your powdered milk, and also open up possibilities of meals made with shelf stable foods.    You can stir in herbs or spices to make a tasty dip, or use it as you would use cream cheese.  I find it a bit too tart to use straight (like on a bagel) but that could be because I always use yogurt that has cultured too long.  

You will need a bowl, a strainer, and some cheese cloth

Scoop the yogurt into the cheese cloth

Now just let it sit there and drain for a LONG time

Or, if you are impatient like me, twist the top shut and squeeze
Oh my!  You have to squeeze gently or you will get a big mess!

Now (there is no picture because we all know what cream cheese looks like) open up your cheese cloth and dump (scrape) your cheese out into a bowl.  (Or a plate, or cup, or anything else you want.)

Goody! Goody!  Yogurt Whey!

This is the good stuff! The leftover liquid is full of beneficial bacteria. Use it in smoothies, bread, or as the live cultures in your bokashi.

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day!

Dear Georgia,
If I lived around the corner from you still, I would bring you one of these today. I have been enjoying the blossoms and the light today - even though there is a computer right off screen, and the counters are a mess, and the window frames aren't painted yet. Even in the midst of real life there is a drop of sunshine and beauty.

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