This weekend we held the long-awaited first ever cheesemaking workshop here at Little City Farm. This fantastic workshop was worth waiting for - it has by far been the most popular, and the registration filled up within only a few days of announcing it. Inspired by 100-mile diet, Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and New England Cheese Making Company's Ricki Carrol the "cheese queen", not to mention scores of artisan cheesemakers around the globe and homesteaders who have gone before us...we all made cheese. And, it was surprisingly easy!
Our enthusiastic facilitator walked us through the many many steps of making mozzarella, which though the list is long, really are not difficult. The hardest part is being patient while the milk heats to the proper temperature, adding the correct amounts of rennet (we used a vegetable rennet), sea salt, and citric acid, and then stretching it and shaping into cheese balls. Delicious! We used raw milk from cows milked the day before (!), so it was incredibly fresh. The milk also seemed to have a higher fat content than some other raw milk the facilitator had used before, and we guessed it was due to the cow's heavier winter diet of hay (as opposed to grazing). Well, this helped the mozzarella practically form itself! Since there are so many steps to making mozzarella I suggest going to the New England Cheese Company website for directions, or using a book like Home Cheesemaking. Remember, never throw out the whey - it is a complete protein, excellent source of vitamin B12, minerals such as magnesium, zinc, calcium, phosphorus. Use it in smoothies, baking, soaking grains/beands, as a healthy lemonade, even on your compost if necessary.
We also made cream cheese by straining organic live-cultured yogurt through a cheesecloth which then sits and drains for 8 hours - again, very easy. And with the left-over whey from the mozzarella I made ricotta - again, easy.
Here's how to make Simple Ricotta, instructions courtesy of the workshop facilitator. You will need:
4 litres of whole milk (not ultra-high pasteurized!) or whey drained from the other cheesemaking process
1 1/2 tsp citric acid (lemon juice could probably do in a pinch)
1 tsp sea salt (or "cheese salt" if you have it)
large stainless steel pot
colander lined with cheese cloth
long wooden spoon, stick, knitting needle, etc
1. Pour milk/whey into pot, then stir in citric acid and salt til dissolved.
2. Heat the whey/milk to 195F stirring constantly so it doesn't burn.
3. Turn off the heat, and let stand for 5 min.
4. Ladle the curds into a colander lined with cheesecloth.
5. Pull up the sides of the cloth to make a bag, tie onto middle of the wooden spoon, hang spoon over a bowl and let drain at least 30 min (or overnight, depending on how slowly it's draining) until desired consistency.
Serve on bagels, with crackers, mixed with fresh fruit, etc etc...mmmm