Make sure the milk you use for this cheese is NOT
--Homogenized milk will work fine.
--Fresh farm milk will also work well but we encourage you to try with 1 gallon of store bought whole milk first.
--Low fat milk will work but the cheese will be drier and less flavorful
You will need:
--A 6 to 8 quart stainless steel pot. Aluminum or cast iron will not work.
--A stainless steel or strong plastic slotted spoon.
--A two quart microwave safe mixing bowl
--A thermometer which will clearly read between 80 - 120 degrees F.
Prepare your work area:
Do not prepare any other food while you are making cheese.
Put all food products away.
Move all sponges, cloths and dirty towels away from your work surface, wipe your sink and stove with soap and water.
Finally use your antibacterial cleaner to wipe down all surfaces.
Crush 1/4 tablet of rennet and dissolve in 1/4 cup of cool, unchlorinated water and set aside to use later.
Add 1.5 tsp. of citric acid, diluted in 1 cup cool water, to 1 gallon of cold milk and stir well.
(Add the citric acid solution to the empty cold pot - the photos show adding this dry but do mix with water).
Now, pour cold milk into your pot quite quickly to mix well with the citric acid . This will bring the milk to the proper acidity to stretch well later. Next, heat this milk to 90F. As you approach 90F, you may notice your milk beginning to curdle slightly due to acidity and temp.
NOTE: If having problems with milk forming a proper curd, you may need to increase this temp to 95 or even 100F
At 90F, remove the pot from the burner and slowly add your rennet (which you prepared in previous step) to the milk. Stir in a top to bottom motion for approx. 30 seconds, then stop. Cover the pot and leave undisturbed for 5 minutes.
Check the curd, it will look like custard, with a clear separation between the curds and whey. If too soft or the whey is milky, let set for a few more minutes.
Cut the curds into a 1" checkerboard pattern (as in photos above) and, if a drier cheese is desired, carefully cut and stir this curd to release more whey.
Place the pot back on the stove and heat to 105F, while slowly stirring the curds with your ladle. (If you will be stretching the curds in a hot water bath heat to 110F in this step.)
Take off the burner and continue slowly stirring for 2-5 minutes. (More time will make a firmer cheese)
With a slotted spoon, scoop curds into a microwave safe bowl. (If the curd is too soft at this point let sit for another minute or so.)
You will now press this curd gently with your hand, pouring off as much whey as possible. Reserve this whey to use in cooking.
Next, microwave the curd on HI for 1 minute. You will notice more whey has run out of the curd. Drain off all whey as you did before. Quickly work the cheese with a spoon or your hands until it is cool enough to touch (rubber gloves will help since the cheese is almost too hot to touch at this point.)
Microwave 2 more times for 35 seconds each, and repeat the kneading as in the last step. Drain off all of the whey as you go.
Knead quickly now as you would bread dough until it is smooth and shiny. Add salt near the finish.
At this point the cheese should be soft and pliable enough to stretch like taffy.
It is ready to eat when it cools.
Form it into a ball and drop into ice water to cool and refrigerate.
When cold you can wrap in plastic wrap and it will last for several days, but is best when eaten fresh.
--A substitution of reconstituted dry milk powder and cream is a great option if you can not find the right type of milk
--Lipase may be added to the milk to provide a typical italian cheese flavor
--If you want a softer texture, do not let the curd set as firm and work less when draining and kneading, this will make a moister cheese.