“Cheese! We’ll Go Somewhere Where There’s Cheese!”

Occasionally, I get on compulsive do-it-yourself kicks — especially concerning food. I make my own ranch dressing, spaghetti noodles, fettucini noodles, lasagna noodles (yeah, I’ve got a pasta maker, deal with it). I’ve brewed beers and sodas alike. I won’t eat biscuits if they come from a can.

Like I said, these are just occasional kicks. For the most part, I’m chowing down on drive-thru burgers. But when I get on a kick, it cannot be satisfied until I have at least attempted the creation.

Which brings us to cheese.

My desire to make my own cheese goes back a couple of years, when I first got my pasta cutter. I had the idea that if I could make my own lasagna noodles, I could make my own lasagna all the way — the sauce, the noodles, even the cheese! So I went to my favorite cookbook.

I saw how simple it was to make mozzarella (more complex cheeses, not so much). But around this time, the compulsion fizzled… only to be reignited last week.

The Quest for Rennet

Mozzarella, as I said, was the simplest. Milk + citric acid, heat, add rennet, pull out the curds, head and knead. This is the recipe I used (forgive the Comic Sans). Unfortunately, stores that should have carried the required enzymes just… well, they just didn’t. I ended up going to 8 different stores:

  1. Earthfare – bought a cheesecloth and organic whole milk. They did not have rennet or citric acid, nor did the first two employees I asked even know what those were.
  2. Pearly Gates – bought citric acid, but they were out of rennet.
  3. Kroger on Drake – Never heard of rennet. Bought unchlorinated water.
  4. Publix on Whitesburg – Never heard of rennet
  5. Target Jones Valley – Never heard of rennet
  6. Fresh Market – Never heard of rennet, said they didn’t have it
  7. Publix Meridianville – Never heard of rennet, said they didn’t have it
  8. Kroger on Oakwood – Found rennet, didn’t even have to ask.

The irony being 1) Kroger on Oakwood is where I buy most of my groceries anyway, and 2) Pearly Gates (where the employees were more helpful than anywhere else) had expressed doubt that this particular Kroger would carry rennet.

Anyway, with the quest complete, I began the task of making cheese…

Milk on the stove

 

The citric acid was packaged in the most suspicious way possible

 

This is the little tablet I went to 8 stores looking for.

And here it is dissolving

The curdling process took about 3 times as long as it was supposed to.

 

Cutting the curd cubes.

Stirring the curds in the whey… Miss Muffet’s appetite grosses me out having been through this process.

 

Scooping out the curds…

…and dropping them in the colander.

 

After the excess whey has been squeezed… time to go into the microwave!

Heatin’ and kneadin’ and bumpin’ and grindin’ and spinnin’ and reelin’…

And the final product!

 

I think I was most impressed with how well it grated.

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