Cheesy Dreams–Wendy Makes Mozzarella

WL-MOZZ

Cheese is a dreamy proposition. It is delicious and with so many varieties you can get salty, nutty, aged, soft, hard, sharp, mild, creamy goodness. It makes a piece of bread sing and took cake to another level.

Sadly, I am allergic to cheese. I don’t break out in hives, my throat does not close up nor does it do serious damage to my stomach. No it just triggers terrible migraines.

I only found this was one of the causes of my insane migraines since the age of 11, my earliest memory of a migraine, when I was a freshman in college. After so many years of suffering and the migraines getting in the way of my school work, I decided to go to a specialist. A very nice neurologist diagnosed a severe allergy to cheese, red wine and several other things and of course major stress as my migraine triggers. I was fine with finding ways to manage stress and let all of the other foods go, but cheese, you might as well tell me to never eat again. Nevertheless, the pain, the nausea and the insane auras that preceded the migraine were too much to bear.

Since then, I have lived a life without cheese. I have mastered the art of eating pizza without cheese, and yes it’s flatbread with sauce, but it can be delicious. As I have gotten older the headaches have been more under control, but I do slip and eat cheese sometimes and very often pay for it.

When my friend Wendy decided she was going to make her own mozzarella, something she had never done before, I was instantly intrigued about what her experience would be like. She’s like Mikey from the old Life cereal commercials, she’ll try anything and sometimes she likes it, so when she puts her creative mind  to work I perk up and pay attention. I chatted her up for a few minutes to get a sense of what the process was like.

Wendy, what made you want to make your own mozzarella?

I am very much a project oriented person. When I see something crafty and interesting I am inspired very easily because I love learning and testing things. I saw something on Pinterest that said you could make Mozzarella in 20 minutes so I decided to try it.

Was it easy to get the ingredients and everything that you needed? 

Yes, thank God for the internet!

I bought the kit  from a cheese maker who had instructions on how to make mozzarella on their site. It was very easy to buy the things I needed, I probably cost me about $10-15.00. I needed what you call vegetable rennet, it’s what makes the cheese curdle and citric acid which helps make the cheese pliable. Internet sources say you can either use kosher salt or you can use a cheese salt, so I bought the cheese salt from the cheese maker. The articles and recipes I read from the web said if you store the salt, rennet and acid in the fridge or freezer it will last a long time.

Was there anything outside of the kit that you had to buy?

Farm fresh milk, the fresher the milk the better. Some people feel the pasteurized milk that you find in the store won’t work as well when making the cheese so I looked into getting fresh milk from the  Union Square Farmer’s Market here in NYC.

How long did it take you to make the mozzarella?

I feel like it only took me 15 minutes, it was so fast! The milk curdled right away . I was so nervous,  I was shaking because I was dealing with live bacteria.

Like the probiotic or live cultures in yogurt? Well I don’t see anything growing on you, so you seem ok?

Right!

WL-MOZZ2Was there anything that went wrong, or didn’t go as you expected it?

I downloaded instructions on how to make the cheese from different sources on the web. I read them all and one in particular had step by step instructions, so I followed that. Unfortunately while was in the middle of making the cheese, I screwed up one step. I took the curds and dumped them in  cold water, which I wasn’t supposed to do until I kneaded it. When I started kneading it was wasn’t pliable or stretchy like it was supposed to be. I get the feeling that the cold water must have done something to it.

You were still able to make something?

Yes, I was still able to eat it and it tasted like mozzarella when I took a bite out of it. Not as fresh tasting though as I expected. I’m going to try again.

But you were happy with the outcome.

Yes, I had a lot of fun. I was shocked that it was so easy.

Simple things, simple ingredients, simple process. Outside of making another fresh batch of mozzarella, what do you 

think is going to be your next project?

Shrinky Dinks! I see it on Pinterest. People are starting to make really cool bracelets and things. I can get the jewelry, what do you call those things you use to make bracelets that you can buy from those stores here in Times Square?

Findings?

Yes, findings!

I can give you some I have at home. You get the plastic, I bring the findings and tools. We grew up with Shrinky Dinks, I always wanted the kit!

I feel like Pinterest opened up a whole world of crafts and projects. I am actually on that website all the time, just seeing what people are doing, creating. Etsy is great as well for seeing what people are creating. It’s kind of interesting to see what people are designing.

Thanks for sharing Wendy!

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