Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mozzarella Hearts with Feta Center

I used the half gallon of 1% milk from Friday and made some Mozzarella on Sunday. I used 3/4 tsp of citric acid in 1/2 cup of water and 1/8 tsp of dbl strength vegetable rennet in 1/4 cup of water. The curds set up in 10 minutes and held together very well during the heating and stirring process. I heated and stretched it three times and left it in a rope when I finished. I cut it into 1/2 oz pieces and put them in ice water for twenty minutes.

Now for the fun part. I recently purchased a mini heart muffin pan, the individual cups are 1 1/2inches. Using a large frying pan with hot water in it I heated the muffin tin. Then I heated some of the mozzarella in the microwave and rolled it out into a sheet. This went over the muffin tin and the heat helped the mozzarella stay stretchy as I filled the hearts with goat milk Feta I made last week. I made another thin sheet of mozzarella and placed it over the tin and used a rolling pin to seal the hearts. After 20 minutes in the fridge, I turned them out onto the cutting board and trimmed them to shape. (I'm not so good with that as you can see in the pic.) I picked some small sweet basil leaves and put them on top. The mozz actually looks like white chocolate when you first look at it. The taste is amazing especially if you take a little basil with it. I'm thinking that it would be nice to put some chopped basil in the heart before sealing them.

This was actually a "proof of concept" project: Trying to come up with the technique to fill mozzarella with a semi soft filling. Now I'm thinking: Key lime mascarpone, Ricotta with herbs, Yogurt Cheese with honey, strawberry preserves, grape tomato with Italian dressing, even mini burrata. Oh, the possibilities.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

More Yogurt Cheese

I made another batch of yogurt\yogurt cheese last night. Using 8 cups of low fat Walmart milk with a pull date of June 7, I added 4Tbs of yogurt I had frozen from the batch made May 9. (Thawed and allowed to come to room temperature first.) After bringing the milk to 180F and cooled to 115F in my stainless steel 8 quart pot. I placed the lid on the pot and put it on the heating pad set on low.and covered it with two layers of bath towels.

After 6 1/2 hours the yogurt had set properly. I removed two cups and put them in storage containers and placed them into fridge to chill. I also removed 8Tbs and put 4Tbs each into two small plastic bags to freeze and use for future yogurt making.

The remainder of the yogurt went into a colander lined with 2 layers of butter muslin and set into a catch bowl in the refrigerator. Covered with some plastic wrap and allowed to drain for 16 hours, it slowly stiffened up until it was the consistency of cream cheese.

Due to the shorter ripening time the yogurt has a much milder taste that previous batches which had ripened for 10-12 hours. It is still thinner than commercial yogurt but I have noticed on previous attempts that it does seem to get thicker if it sits in the fridge for a couple days.

The yogurt cheese has stronger, tangier taste to it than the yogurt. The original 6 cups of yogurt has drained down to just slightly over one(1) cup. By weight it is now 10oz.

I'm pleased with the results this time.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Feta Cheese

Feta Cheese

The first time I made Feta (using fresh goat milk) it turned out well except I didn’t care for the amount of salt on it. I made it according to the recipe in the book and one gallon made 1lb 4oz of curds. After cutting it into one inch squares I salted it with the lesser of the amounts recommended (2-4 Tbs. of salt). It all fit into a 4 cup container with lid and into the fridge it went for 4 days. And it was good. I noticed that the taste changed over the 4 days as it should. The fresh curd is very light tasting before salting with just a hint of goat. Over night it takes on a much stronger goatyness (not sure if that is word or not). This is not a bad taste, it is what makes it Feta. (-:

Sunday I started making the Feta again from one gallon of milk (less two cups I used to make yogurt cheese). After draining overnight, I had 1lb 3oz of curds. I split this in two and took half and put it in brine solution for four hours. It was then put on a reed mat, covered with clean cheese cloth and into the fridge. According to instructions, this piece got turned over twice a day. The instructions also say that it may be stored in a 6-8% salt solution for up to 30 days. The longer it stays in the salt the saltier it gets. (no Duh!) The other I cut into one inch squares and salted with 2 tsp of salt before putting it in plastic container in the fridge. Tomorrow, Friday, is the day of tasting.

BTW I added a few pictures to my previous blogs.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Goat Milk Yogurt

It was a slow week for cheese making last week. So Saturday I picked up a gallon of freshly pasteurized goat’s milk. (It was in the goat Friday). On Sunday, I took 2 cups of it and made it into yogurt. And the rest I started a batch of feta.

The Goat Yogurt

I used the same recipe as on the previous blog on yogurt making. I let it “age” for 8 hours before stirring and putting it in the fridge to chill for the night.

Let me make a couple of points here: Goat’s milk fat is different from cow’s milk and therefore the final product will always be thinner than the same process with cow’s milk. Second, goat’s milk has less lactose than cow’s milk. Since the culture for yogurt consumes the lactose and changes it into lactic acid, the more lactose and the longer you let it age the tangier it becomes. Third, goat’s milk naturally tastes different than cow’s milk.

This morning the yogurt was thin enough to run off the spoon. I’m going to try to thicken it up by putting in a coffee filter liner colander and let some of the whey drain off. The taste however was very nice. It is only mildly tangy and much smoother taste than the cow’s milk yogurt I made before.

I'll follow up about the feta in the next day or two, Maybe...sometime...perhaps...ok...honestly...soon.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Making Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese

While I’m personally not a yogurt eating person, I was asked about making yogurt cheese. (Or, more correctly, my wife was asked if yogurt could be used to make cheese.

My answer (gathered from Wikipedia): You can make a yogurt cheese which is considered a strained yogurt. Put yogurt into a coffee filter in a strainer over a bowl and let sit in the refrigerator until it is about the consistency of cream cheese. In Arab countries this is called Labneh. It is sometimes thickened further and formed into balls then put in to a jar of olive oil for a few weeks. Shankleesh is made from Labneh that has been cured and dried. Labneh is salted, dried and rolled into balls. Shankleesh is often rolled in Olive Oil and thyme, or coated with other spices.

Yogurt, itself is easy to make and much less expensive to make than store bought. It also has no preservatives or additives other than those you put in. Turning what you make into cheese is even easier.

Making Yogurt

What you will need:

1 quart of milk, whole or skim, 1% or 2% your choice
2 Tbs of your favorite non flavored store bought yogurt
1 thermometer (capable of reading at least from 100F-185F)
A double boiler
1 quart sterilized jar with lid
(optional one heating pad and heavy towel)

Bring your store bought yogurt to room temperature as you set up double boiler so the water just touches the bottom of the top pan. Put in the milk and heat to 185F stirring to keep from scalding the bottom. Remove the milk from the heat and cool to 110F. To speed this process put pan into sink with tepid water. Stir occasionally. (Do not let it go below 90F.) Once the milk is at 110F, stir in the two Tbs. of yogurt. Then place in your sterilized jar and put lid on loosely.
You will now need to let this sit for seven hours at 100F – 110F. If you don’t have an electric yogurt maker, (yeah right) you can warm your oven to 100F and put your future yogurt in there. Of course, having your oven on for 7 hours might be a bit hard on the electric bill. One alternative is to set your jar on a heating pad set on med. And cover it with a heavy towel. After seven hours, take it out and stir vigorously for a couple minutes, put the lid back on and put in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning stir it up again and it is ready to be enjoyed with your favorite topping.

Shelf life is up to 3 weeks
Yield is 1 to 1, one quart of milk yields one quart of yogurt

Yogurt Cheese

To turn your yogurt into cheese, simply place a coffee filter in a colander or strainer and put over a catch bowl and put in your yogurt. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Leave it over night and check it for consistency. If it is thick enough, enjoy it. If not, put it back and let it drain longer until it is what you want. Most people like it about the consistency of cream cheese.
At the right is what is left of 1 1/2 cups of goat milk yogurt after being drained for 24 hours. The containers are 4oz size. The one on the left is unaltered and is tangy and goaty. The one on the right I mixed a little honey in to it and made a nice sweet treat.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Making Mozzarella: The "30 minute" method

Ok, so I talked about making Mozzarella but didn't you tell HOW to make Mozzarella. (Perhaps this is part of my evil geek plot to keep you coming back to read my blog. muhahahaha!)

1 gal whole milk (I have been using Wal-Mart brand at $2.98 with pull date of 17-19 days)
1 1/2 tsp of food grade citric acid dissolved in 1 cup unchlorinated water
1/4 to 1/2 rennet tablet dissolved in 1/4 cup unchlorinated water

You will also need the following equipment

1 non reactive pot big enough to hold 1 gal of milk, with lid (Non reactive means not aluminum or steel pots. Stainless steel or enameled steel pots work fine. I have a 7.5 quart enameled steel pot.
1 thermometer that will accurately read lower temps
1 non reactive slotted spoon
1 timer (optional)
1 knife for cutting the curds (long enough to reach the bottom of the pot)
1 microwavable bowl 2.5 quart glass works well
A bowl of ice water
Plastic wrap
A microwave
And, of course, a range

It’s pretty simple to start with. Pour the milk into your pot then add the citric acid slowly while stirring vigorously. Do not reverse this order as the acid will curdle some of the milk as it comes into contact with the acid and you will get milk that looks like cream of wheat. That is not what we are looking for at this point.

Bring the milk to 90 degrees, stirring to prevent scorching the milk. I have started using my 12.5 quart stock pot as the bottom of a double boiler and can bring the milk up to temperature faster and safer than directly on the burner. At 90 degrees remove pot from heat and add the rennet. Stir slowly, gently, and in an up down motion for 30-60 seconds. You do not want the milk to continue moving after you finish stirring as it breaks up the curds as they are forming. Put a lid on it and set timer for 5 minutes or check your watch. Leave it alone. Don’t even peek.

After five minutes, check for curd development. With store bought milk, it probably isn’t ready yet. Check back every five minutes until the curds are ready. It should look like custard and the whey should be clear green. Once it is ready cut the curd into 1 inch squares. Then retrace your cuts but at a 45 degree angle from the first cuts. Cut all the way to the bottom and sides as you go. Don’t worry if they aren’t exactly one inch.

Put the pot back on the heat and bring the temperature of the whey to 105F while gently moving the curds around in the pot. Take the temp at different depth and locations in the pot to insure even heating of the curds. Once it is at 105F remove from heat and stir slowly for 2-5 minutes. (The longer you stir the dryer the mozzarella will be.) Take the curds out of the whey with the slotted spoon and put them into your bowl. Drain off as much of the whey as you can without pressing on the curd. (All right, you can press a little) Put the bowl in the microwave and heat on HIGH for one (1) minute. Pour off any additional whey that has separated from the curd. Knead the curds like you would in making bread (fold over half on top of itself and press down). Repeat in different directions several times until the curd begins to cool. Nuke it again for 30 seconds and drain whey as needed. If it is ready and is hot enough (135F) it will begin to stretch when you pick it up. Time to have some fun. Think “Taffy Pull”. Hold one end in one hand and stretch it with the other and when you run out of arm bring the ends together and start over. When it starts to break when you stretch it, nuke it again for 30 seconds. I have only been repeating the heating process 2-3 times. Any more than three times and I end up with a nice ball of soft plastic.

After you’ve made a few batches, you’ll get a feel for when it is “right”. And that is when you bring it together and form it back into a ball, or form strings, or small balls or or or. Put your final product in an ice water bath until it is cold. For a 1lb ball that is about 20 minutes. For string cheese 2-3 minutes. Take it out and let it surface dry before wrapping it in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. You can skip the ice bath if you like the fresh warm cheese so much that you eat it all before it gets to take the bath.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Macarpone making update

On Saturday, May 1, we went to Whole Foods Market in Orlando. We wanted to look around and see what they have and what kind of pricing on products. One of the main things I was looking for was the milk and cream products. We did find pasteurized goat milk in quarts and half gallon. The half gallon was around $4.99, which is in line with farm fresh pasteurized goat milk at $8-10 gal.
Since I have been focused on mascarpone lately, I wanted to find some light or heavy cream that is not ultra pasteurized. The only one I found at Whole Foods was a pint of “Natural by Nature” organic heavy cream from grass fed cows at $4.29 a pint. The pull date on the cartons ranged from May 7 to May 10. I bought two with the May 10 date. (I checked with the "Natural by Nature" website and the shelf live of their heavy cream is 17 days from manufacture date, which means what I purchased was already in the carton for 8 days.)
I made up the first batch shortly after we got home. (I didn’t think I could sleep not knowing how this would work.) The cream is more yellowish than the Wal-Mart cream I had been using. (higher fat content and being grass fed cows?) I used 1/8 tsp tartaric acid instead of lemon juice this time. There is a slight difference in the taste of the final product but the tartaric acid gives more consistent results than lemon juice. The rest of the process was the same as what I described earlier. I put the cheese in the colander at 6:00P.M.. By 10:00P.M., it was thick enough for use. This sure beats the 12-24 hours for the ultra pasteurized Wal-Mart heavy cream.
I made the second batch on Sunday afternoon. It took a bit longer to drain and thicken but the final results were nearly identical to the first. Yield: 12oz each batch.
The first question is: Is there a significant difference in the results from the ultra pasteurized cream? The texture is nearly the same as I have seen in other batches of mascarpone made with ultra pasteurized heavy cream. I can taste the higher fat content as a slightly buttery flavor in the mascarpone. Nice. As a stand-alone product that can be spread on bread or crackers, this is a wonderful cheese.
Second question, is it worth the extra price? At $4.29 VS $1.62, I wouldn’t use it or my key lime mascarpone fillo cups, or for mixing with berries as the flavor of the cheese is masked by the added ingredients. Maybe for special occasions or for very discerning friends I would use this cream for making mascarpone cheese. But for “everyday” use, I can accept the quality of mascarpone made from $1.62/pint Wal-Mart heavy cream.
I have seen three different recipes for mascarpone. One using lemon juice, one using tartaric acid and one using crème fraiche culture. I have used lemon juice and tartaric acid for making mascarpone cheese. And of the two, I prefer the taste of the lemon juice mascarpone. The cheesy geek will get some crème fraiche culture in my next supply order and try it out and see if there is a taste and/or textural difference.