Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cheese Woes

Since we have an abundance of milk now that Nettie's kids have been sold, I've been having to make cheese twice a week.  I usually just make a quick whole milk "ricotta" using vinegar to get a curd, but one can only use so much fresh ricotta-type cheese.

I want mozzarella.  We use a LOT of it since homemade pizza is on the menu at least once a week.  And I'm really itching to try a lasagna recipe from Tiny Gardener.  I hate to admit that I've had to stock my freezer with store bought mozzarella since I just CAN NOT get a consistent mozzarella on my own.

About two months ago I made a decent mozzarella.  The time before last was a disaster.  As was yesterday's attempt.

I've tried two or three different recipes, this one being my go-to recipe.  I don't know if it's my goat's milk.  I don't know if I'm not being clean enough (and I really do make an extra effort when it comes to milk & cheese).  I didn't know if it was the rennet I bought.

So I finally set out do do some sleuthing.  I took a cup of three day old goat milk and warmed it up to 90 degrees, sprinkled a 1/16 tsp. of rennet in it and let it sit for five minutes.  And got a very respectable curd.  The package the rennet came in says that 1/16 teaspoon will set 1-3 gallons, but it's been my experience that I need to use at least twice that to get a good firm'ish curd.  Like a 1/4 tsp. for just a gallon.  Which makes the rennet more expensive per use (and kind'a pisses me off because it was like $25 for 50 grams).

Anyways.  As I sit here, I am still waiting for my milk to set a decent curd in my current batch of mozzarella.  Which it is not.  After twenty minutes.  Although I did use just under 1/4 tsp. of the rennet.  I'm sick of wasting milk.  I guess I'll just have to make sure I double (or triple) the company's "recommended" amount of rennet.  And shoot them a little email saying how disappointed I am in their product or the suggested strength of the rennet.

I let the milk set for a half hour and then cut the "curd".   Which wasn't so much a curd as it was a loosely held together mass of milk solids.  And the whey, which should be a yellow, mostly clear liquid, was pretty much pale white and cloudy.  Which means that there was still potential cheese in that liquid (thus pretty much wasted) that would not hold a curd.  But I persevered.  I was not going to lose another gallon of milk.

I took my "curds" up to 105 degrees, stirred slowly, strained and then did the microwave thing in order to cook more whey out of it and stretch it.

And here's what I finally ended up with:

A ball of mozzarella weighing 12 1/2 ounces (the bowl weight was already taken into account).  Not bad.  But if I'm going to make a pizza and lasagna this weekend, I'd better make another batch or two!


  1. Keep trying- I'm bookmarking your woes for when I finally get up the nerve to try making cheese!

  2. You go, girl! That looks like a nice ball of mozz you have there. Have you read Leigh's post (5 Acres & a Dream) on making mozzarella with goat's milk? She is my go-to source for most thing cheese. I have found that rennet varies widely - from tablet, to vegetable, to animal, to liquid, it's all different.

  3. My first Chevre' was a bust and I haven't had milk in months to try it again, thanks to my little hog (kid) gobbling it up! He's headed out the door or to the grill by this weekend so I'm hoping to be rolling in the milk again soon ☺

  4. Carolyn,

    My name is Tom. My wife is Kathy over at Moving on to the Past. I read your post and noticed that you are concerned about cleanliness. I brew beer and cleanliness becomes a near obsession. Brewers use a product called Star San to sanitize our equipment. I found it on a cheese making supply site when I was looking for a link to pass along so it looks like you guys use it, too.

    If you haven't used it yet give it a try. It really WORKS! A little pricey but it solves a lot of contamination problems.

  5. We are not getting enough milk to make that type of cheese (boo hoo). It looks great! I bet it tastes great too.

  6. Last year we were milking three goats and getting a little over four gallons a day. I had to make a lot of cheese. I had great luck with Cheddar, Gouda, Jack, Pepper Jack, Garlic chive Jack, Colby (I think that covered the Simi-hard cheeses), anyway I tried Mozzarella a couple of times and now of my tries worked.
    All of my recipes call for 3/4 tsp of rennet (liquid) for 2-4 gallons of milk. Hope that helps