When I was back in SK, my mom and I were watching a Canadian morning show and on it, they were making cheese from a kit they had bought online. I thought this was a fantastic idea so I had to get one. After some research, I found that Ricki's Cheesemaking Kit, by The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company had the best reviews. I found it on Amazon for $25 which I thought was a deal considering it comes with enough supplies to make 30 batches of cheese! I got the basic kit to make Mozzarella and Ricotta because Mozza is the cheese I use the most.
The only thing that I had to buy was a gallon of whole Milk (I read after that I could use a lower fat milk). I bought the half and half because I read the instructions wrong so I didn't need it.
The kit came with everything else that I needed and a cute little instruction/recipe booklet.
The instructions called for a gallon pot, unfortunately mine is exactly a gallon, so it was filled up right to the edge which made the vigorous stirring that the instructions call for nearly impossible. Guess I better get a bigger pot for next time!
The kit came with a cheese thermometer and I had to heat everything to exactly a certain temperature then remove it from the heat. In the first step I had to heat the mixture to 90f. It was supposed to form a custard like consistency with the liquid separated from the curds. As you can see, mine was more of a ricotta type consistency and I was sure it was because I wasn't able to stir it properly. That may have been the case, and I was convinced my cheese was a bust. I tried heating it and leaving it a few more times to no avail so finally I went online to there help section and discovered this was probably no big deal.
I strained my curd out of the pot into another bowl. I had a choice of 2 methods for the next step and I chose the one I thought would be the easiest, the microwave method. Next time I would choose the water bath method but for my first time I thought I would go with the easy one, and they said there would be no difference in the taste. Basically all I had to do was microwave it to 135f, dump out the liquid that accumulated and do that again until as much liquid as possible was gone.
Once that was done came the moment of truth. I basically just had a lumpy gooey ball of curds so I still wasn't convinced that I was going to actually have edible cheese. the instructions stated I put on rubber gloves for this part, which was not listed in the things I had to get, but luckily I had an extra clean pair in my cupboard. I sprinkled some cheese salt on and then the fun part, stretching it out. If I was going to add some fun ingredients this would be the time, but again, I went for basic this time. The stretching was a bit like more liquidy silly putty. It actually became smooth and shiny and solid very quickly.
In the instructions they suggested this was the time to cut off a piece and eat it while it was still warm. I must say it was delicious! I then formed it into sort of a ball, then cut it into a few chunks because the ball looked pretty weak.
For the final step I had to soak the cheese in ice water for 15 minutes, I guess to make it more solid. I took it out sampled more, and that was it!
I was super impressed with this kit, and considering I would pay close to 10$ for a ball of mozzarella of similar size and quality this will be a big money saver. Plus it was so easy and fun! I did actually make the mozza for a recipe that I had learned on Rachael Ray when we attended last week, but you will have to wait until next week for that!