Friday, February 20, 2009

home made mozzarella.

We get two gallons of fresh from the cow milk from a local farmer each week. We often make our own yogurt, yogurt cheese, and cream cheese, and sometimes butter. We have been wanting to delve deeper into cheesemaking, but just haven't done too much yet. After seeing a quick segment on a PBS gardening show about making mozzarella, I decided it looked like a fun and easy project to do with the boys.

Yesterday we looked up a recipe, and discovered that we had all of the ingredients needed already! This is so easy to make and the cheese is so good. Other than the time we waited for milk or whey to heat up, this took almost no time at all and was very simple to do.

::making fresh mozzarella at home::
*This recipe is adapted from the book Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll

2 tsp citric acid
1 gallon raw or whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
1/4 tsp liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup water (we use the vegetable rennet from here)
1 Tbsp sea salt
candy thermometer to check liquid temps


Pour the milk into a large pot, put on the stove on low/med-med heat. Add citric acid to the milk and mix well. Stir in the diluted rennet with an up and down motion, continue heating until the temperature reaches 105ºF. Turn off the heat and let the curd set for 5-10 minutes.

Scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon (or strain them with a fine mesh strainer) and put them into a large heat resistant bowl. Press the curds gently with your hands, pouring off as much whey as possible into a bowl. Reserve the whey.

Pour the whey back into the pot and heat it to at least 175ºF degrees. Add salt to the whey and stir.

Ladle the hot whey over the curd in the bowl (just to cover) knead the curd with 2 wooden spoons until the curd is smooth and pliable.

The internal temperature of the curd needs to reach around 165 degrees to become pliable and stretchy. If the curd breaks, it needs to be reheated (by pouring more hot whey over the top). If you want to add any dried or fresh herbs, do now. I added a teaspoon of an herb mix I put together which included ground pepper, dried garlic, and an italian herb mix.

Pick the curd up with your hands and quickly squeeze into a ball, tucking the ends under to make smooth. Go fast, will set immediately.

Eat immediately while warm, or if you want to store it for later, place your balls of mozzarella into a bowl of very cold water (you can add more salt if you want, to help intensify the cheese flavor). Let sit a few minutes. Wrap and store in the fridge! Eat within a day or so.

Yield: 3/4 - 1 pound

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I like recipes that my boys can make. They love to measure, pour, knead and bake. I particularly like recipes that use metric measurements and not only the US cups...not only is it more accurate for baking, but we can pull out the scale and the boys can set the scale to the correct measurement (g/oz) and then weigh each item themselves. They are learning about ounces and cups and grams and milliliters and pounds. They are learning the relative measurements and understanding the relationships between 250 grams of flour vs. 2 cups of flour. They are looking at the scale and comparing quantities on the recipe to the scale readout. Perfect.

Today we made pizza. We have been loving the recipes from the book "Baking Bread with Children" by Warren Lee Cohen. This pizza recipe fit the bill. It was quick and easy, and it had measurements listed in all of the above. The boys did all of the measuring, kneading and rolling. We only tweaked the recipe a bit using our favorite flours for pizza. Turned out great!


250g (2 cups) strong 00 Italian pizza flour (or strong white bread flour)
250g (2 cups) whole wheat pastry flour (recipe calls for 'plain' or pastry flour, I used whole wheat pastry)
15 ml (1 Tbsp) honey
10ml (2 tsp) sea salt
10ml (2 tsp) good yeast
300 ml (10 oz = about 1 1/4 cups) warm water (body temp or so)
45 ml (3 Tbsp) olive oil

pizza sauce, cheese and toppings.

In large bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the honey. Let it sit in a warm spot for about 10 minutes until it is bubbly and smells yeasty.

Add the salt, olive oil, and then slowly add in the flour. The dough will start to come together - it should still be slightly sticky to touch. You can use your hands for this part, or use a Kitchen Aid with a dough hook just to incorporate it.

Sprinkle some flour on your counter and hand knead the dough for about 10 minutes.

Oil a bowl with olive oil. Put the kneaded dough (ball) into the bowl and cover it with a moist towel - put in a warm spot. Let it rise for 1.5 - 2 hours until double in size.

Pull the dough out of the bowl and cut into two pieces (or 4 pieces if you want little individual pizzas).

Roll or stretch into a round or whatever shape you want and put onto a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina flour (to keep from sticking) ...

Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.

Put on the sauce, toppings and cheese. Let the prepped pizzas sit and rise for 15 minutes while the oven pre-heats.

Bake for 7-15 minutes or so, depending on how thinly you rolled your dough...bake until golden and cheese bubbly.

Let cool a bit before slicing.

ingredient tip:

00 pizza flour is a high gluten finely ground flour. It is usually called Italian Tipo "00" flour. It looks like baby powder - it is a finer ground than normal flour, is high gluten, and it will give your dough an incredible super-smooth texture. I find it at the local Italian deli. I liked this recipe using the '00' flour mixed with the whole wheat white flour. It was a great texture and was still a light crust with the whole grain bonus. It is really good - my kids will eat it, and they are picky about pizza dough!