Homemade Cheese: A tale of disappointment

“It’s so easy!” They said

“It tastes so much better!” They said

“It will be so worth it!” They said

That’s right.  I made cheese at home.  Mozzarella, to be exact.  We already make our own pizza crust and grow our own herbs and tomatoes, so I was having visions of delicious garden pizzas dancing in my head.

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The actual homemade pizza with the actual homemade cheese.

I decided to try my hand at cheese making because THEY said all of the above……. and also because I would be able to control the quality of the milk used in the finished product.  If you buy anything organic, you are really supposed to eat organic meat and dairy.  The way we go through milk around here, though, organic milk is cost prohibitive for us to drink.  I do buy organic milk to make my yogurt, though, and figured I could do the same with the cheese.

I started out by buying these cultures online.  The product came with plenty of supplies to make more than one batch of cheese.

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I also bought milk from this dairy, which is local to us and sooooo good. But, as all good quality milk is, sooooo expensive.

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It comes in glass bottles.  You know it has to be good!

I found a ceramic pot at the thrift store that I picked up for 2.99.  Apparently, anything other than ceramic can interfere with the cheese curdling or give an off flavor to the cheese.

$36 later…I was ready to make mozzarella.  This had better be some damn good cheese.

I read through the directions carefully. I heated my milk to the appropriate temperature and added my culture to it.  And let it sit.  When the timer went off, I cracked the lid to take a peek….and my heart sank.  It looked exactly the same as it did ten minutes before.  Nothing had changed.

According to the directions, the whey was supposed to rise to the top and the curds sink to the bottom.  That was not what mine looked like (should have taken a picture…but it would have just looked like a pot of milk.  You can imagine it, I’m sure).

I poked it.

Wait…the the top was solid?  The curds were on top and the whey on the bottom?  That’s not right…but I guess I’ll go with it.

I cut the curds so they could…curd…some more.

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Into the water bath it went to cool for a bit before adding the salt.  Hmm…my curds had already set…and the salt wasn’t getting mixed in.

Into the microwave then to relax the curds so I could stretch them to make shiny, glossy mozzarella.  But the curds were way too hot to handle and by the time they’d cooled enough to touch, they wouldn’t stretch.

What I ended up with was slightly grainy, slightly bland mozzarella. Whomp Whomp.  Since I have all the supplies now (except for milk), I’ll probably give it another go at some point.  But I don’t think cheese is going on the regular list.  I’ll probably just buy it at the grocery store and save myself $33 next time I want a pizza.

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The finished, unimpressive, product. There is $36 worth of cheese in that picture.
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