Well hello there- It’s been awhile since I posted and wanted to check in. This week marks the 4th week of the fall semester and the first round of exams have started which probably explains why I have been MIA from blogging. I also celebrated my 47th birthday on Friday that rolled into a weekend full of fun activities with the family. Have I mentioned before that I have no idea where all those 46 years went.
I kicked my birthday off by wearing this chef uniform for the 3 hour lab I have once a week on Fridays at the Copper Turret Restaurant in Morrisville, NY. Yep, it’s the traditional black & white get up. Reversible double breasted white coat in case one side gets stained, oddly fitting black pants with an elastic waist, non slip black leather shoes ( thank heavens for Dr. Marten’s – they always come in handy when you need a sturdy shoe), topped off with a baseball cap with the Copper Turret logo. No toque with 100 pleats for this gal- I wouldn’t be worthy of wearing such a cap since I don’t know 100 different ways to cook an egg yet. If you are working in a restaurant or with food, there is a pretty good chance that some kind of uniform will be required so I just gotta go with the flow and suit up.
Notice the pretty hairnet and no Copper Turret baseball cap. That’s because this day was spent at the Morrisville dairy incubator on campus making mozzarella cheese. Do I hear any yums out there?
Our class arrived at the dairy incubator at 8:00 am sharp with excitement to make cheese. There is only one person that officially works at the incubator and her job is to make fresh cheese for the college and the Copper Turret. What a fun job that must be!
After stepping in this foot bath, all of us approached a large stainless steel heated vat that was filled with fresh milk that was just pasteurized. That is no joke, it is my understanding that the milk in the vat came from a cow that was milked only 3 hours before we arrived. The woman in charge was gently stirring the vat of milk and carefully monitoring the temperature and pH of milk.
Once the milk was at the proper temperature and pH, she added white vinegar followed by rennet enzyme. The rennet enzyme causes the milk to coagulate and form curds and whey which are the needed ingredients to make cheese so in my opinion, the rennet is the magic ingredient.
Lots of gentle stirring and waiting in between each step was going on until the curds were at the desired texture and firmness. The next step was to comb through the curds with a horizontal then vertical curd knife. This cutting process allows the whey to separate from the curd so that after about 20 minutes, the whey can be drained from the cheese vat.
After all the whey was drained, the curd was cut into 8 large blocks to complete the whey drainage.
The next step of the cheese making process is where I came in. The fun part! The cheese curd blocks were cut into much smaller pieces so it was manageable for a novice like me to heat in the microwave, knead, reheat, and finally stretch and form into a mozzarella ball. I forgot to tell you that I had already pre- planned a pizza party for dinner cause the rumor around campus was that we were taking lots of the fresh cheese home with us.
All of the students in my class got to take the mozzarella cheese ball they made home. In addition the remaining curds were put into plastic bags and I think we all took 4-5 pounds of fresh curd. I did ask the instructor how to modify the heating up of the fresh curd part before stretching the cheese because I don’t have a microwave anymore. I have attempted a few different techniques with heating it in hot water but have a long way to go to replicate the same cheese consistency that I stretched in the lab.
I am so glad that I got the opportunity to watch and learn how to make mozzarella cheese. The taste of this cheese was amazing and it probably was the freshest and most delicious mozzarella I have ever eaten.
It is my understanding that it’s not that difficult to make at home assuming you have the right equipment & ingredients on hand. There are several websites and instructional You Tube videos online on how to make cheese and I need to check them out before I try this out on my own.
The pizza also came out amazing and I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures of it to share with you.
And just so you know, I didn’t eat my dinner on a tuffet and there were no spiders to frighten me away.
Have you ever made homemade cheese before? If so, what kind.. cheddar, blue cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta, brie, swiss, limburger-kidding on that one? Please share your cheese making experiences in the comments?