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Homemade Cheese: Chef Demonstrates the Method

Homemade Cheese: Chef Demonstrates the Method

Kathie Smith | The Blade, Toledo, Ohio

And, “Watch the heat,” the chef told his students. “Be careful of scorching or it will get bitter.” He heated the milk to 90 degrees.

He added the rennet solution with an up-and-down motion for 30 seconds. Leaving the pot undisturbed for five to 10 minutes, the mixture began to look like custard with a clear partition between curd and whey. Some might compare it to tofu in appearance.

When it was set, he cut the curd with a long, sharp knife, reaching to the bottom of the pot, and then he placed the pot back on the stove to heat to 110 while slowly moving the curds around. Then it was taken off the burner and he slowly stirred it. The floating whey was poured off.

“It won’t be as firm as commercial curds which have been refrigerated,” he told the class.

Stretching curds To stretch the curds, he ladled the curds into a colander folding the curds gently as he drained off the whey. Then using a large pot of salted water, he stretched the curd until it became elastic. After removing the curds from the liquid, it should stretch like taffy; if it doesn’t, return it to the hot water. It must be at least 135 degrees to stretch properly.

Then Chef Rhegness flattened the ball of mozzarella thinly to make a roulade and placed sun-dried tomatoes, black pepper, pepperoni, and a moderate amount of herbs (don’t overpower the flavor of the cheese) on the top. Edible flowers also are a nice touch. Then the cheese is rolled in plastic wrap and compressed together. To make it more plump, twist and seal the ends and put it in water for a few seconds, then in an ice water bath to firm up.

If commercial curd is used, salted water is heated to simmering at 188 degrees. Use enough water to reach the bottom two inches of a colander that rests in the water. “Have the cheese 135 degrees to stretch it,” said Chef Rhegness.

When making cheese, use stainless steel, not aluminum equipment. “When the water is too hot, it makes the cheese tough.”