Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Art of Cheesemaking

If I lived in Europe, I would have never thought of making my own cheese. But as things stand in Mumbai, you can't do much in the way of eating cheese without rueing the lack of variety. Or more recently, feeling the pinch of high prices of imported cheeses.

I've made paneer all my life and I successfully made mascarpone once, so I thought that making the other kinds of cheese can't be all that hard. What I didn't reckon was the lack of one crucial cheesemaking component : rennet. Not just in India, I looked through all stores I could my last trip to London and no one stocked rennet. Then my friend went to US and looked through several stores until she hit one obscure one in Texas that parted with rennet tablets.

For my first use of rennet, I picked the very easy Neufchatel. Brush and spoon explains the process with some detailed pictures and it does take a while to make, but not even 10 minutes in terms of active effort. The rest of it is just patient waiting.

What I did was mix a litre of milk and 2 tbsp of cultured buttermilk in a stainless steel pan. Or at least, I hope it's cultured buttermilk - I used Amul's probiotic variety. Once it had gently heated to room temperature, I added 1/8th of a rennet tablet dissolved in 2 tbsp water (I know, it's hard to break a tablet in 1/8 but I did it anyway).

Let it rest overnight, then poured the now set curds into a cheescloth resting on a strainer. Tied it up and let it drain all day, and the result was the creamy block of cheese you see up there. I've mixed in a pinch of salt and it tastes great on toast but other ideas to use it up are totally welcome.


Shaheen said...

I can't wait to make my own cheese! This looks like an awesome first attempt!

poonam,,, said...

nice!! i didnt even know it was possible to make cheese at home until recently. and as ignorant as i am i dint know what rennet was..

FoodZone said...

I din't know either that cheese could be made at home. Do you have the recipe for mascarpone? love that cheese.

J said...

I have only ventured into paneer making at home.. am inspired to try some other now

poonam,,, said...

@FoodZone mascarpone is really easy,,we made it for a DB challenge a few months bac,,

FoodZone said...

Thanks for the mascarpone recipe. Will surely give it a try and let you know how it goes!

RV said...

I haven't made cheese so far. This looks incredible

PJ said...

i have been curious about cheese-making process but never ventured doing it myself. glad you found the rennet!

Lawyer Loves Lunch said...

Holy Batman, so cool! I'm such a cheese wimp, I even made ras malai from store bought ricotta cheese. Alas, maybe one day :)

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

I've been meaning to make cheese since so long, haven't got myself a thermometer yet :(

gopika said...

hi as this is a rather old post. did you have any luck in sourcing rennet in india?

Simran said...

Hi Gopika! I could not find rennet in India so I ended up buying it on a trip to US. The good thing is that the rennet tablets last forever in the fridge so if you can convince anyone coming in from UK or Europe to get some, that should last you a few years.

Anonymous said...

Hi , nice post there . Just curious if vegetable rennet is available in mumbai these days ?? Please let me knw if you cud find someplace coz I dont have anybody going to or coming from US, etc

Simran said...

Unfortunately no! I haven't found any source for rennet in India so far so US/Europe trips are still the only option.

Sandesh said...

I found rennet tablets on ebay India. But its 900 bucks for 10 tabs. Are they really that expensive. Here's the link -

Simran said...

Sandesh, thanks for this! 900 rupees sounds like a lot but then, these tablets last forever. Remember you only need 1/8 of a tablet to set a whole litre of milk. I see they also have a 2 and 5 tablet packaging so I might go for that.

rita mal said...

Botanical Name: Mozzarella Cheese
Mozzarella cheese is a mild flavoured and unripened variety of cheese. The origin of the mozzarella cheese is Italy and it was traditionally manufactured from buffalo milk. But the manufacture of mozzarella cheese is now spread throughout the length and breadth of the Europe and USA and modifications have been made to produce the mozzarella cheese from cow milk.

The mozzarella belongs to the pasta-filata class of cheese. It involves the technique of stretching the curd under hot water to get a smooth texture and stringiness in the end product. Hence, this type of cheese possesses good melting and stretching properties. It is one of the best options for producing pizza.
Mozzarella Cheese Recipe.
Mozzarella cheese is popularly known as pizza cheese. It melts easily and is used not only as a pizza-topping but also in many other western dishes such as shepherd’s pie, mushroom, chicken pie and many more. Mozzarella cheese of finest quality is usually made from either buffalo milk or cow milk. Try making mozzarella cheese at home using the following recipe.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

button 1/2 rennet tablet
button 1/4 cup cool, chlorine-free water (most bottled waters are chlorine-free)
button 1 gallon milk (2%, 1%, or skim)
button 2 teaspoons citric acid
button Salt, optionalr

Crush the rennet into the water and stir to dissolve. Pour milk into a non-reactive pot (no aluminum or cast iron). Place over medium heat. Sprinkle the citric acid over the milk and stir a few times. Heat milk to 88 degrees F. Milk will begin to curdle.

At 88 degrees F, add the rennet solution and continue stirring slowly every few minutes until the milk reaches 105 degrees F. Turn off the heat. Large curds will appear and begin to separate from the whey (the clear, greenish liquid).

With a slotted spoon or mesh strainer, scoop the curd into a large glass bowl. (If it's still too liquid, let it set for a few more minutes). Press the curds gently with your hand and pour off as much whey as possible. Microwave curds on high for 1 minute, then drain off all the excess whey. With a spoon, press curds into a ball until cool. Microwave two more times for 35 seconds each, and continue to drain the whey and work cheese into a ball. In the meantime, place the whey over medium heat and let it heat to about 175 degrees F.Mozzarella Cheese for Taj

When cheese is cool enough to touch, knead it like bread dough until smooth. When you can stretch it like taffy, it is done. You can sprinkle 1 to 2 teaspoons salt into the cheese while kneading and stretching it. The cheese will become stretchy, smooth and shiny. If it is difficult to stretch and breaks easily, dip it into the hot whey for a few seconds to make it warm and pliable. Then pick it up again and stretch it into a long rope. Fold over and stretch again. Dip in hot whey as needed to make the cheese pliable.

When the cheese is smooth and shiny (this takes just a few minutes), it is ready to eat. Shape it into a log or golf-size balls, then store in a solution of 2 teaspoons salt to 1 cup water.

Citric acid and rennet are available through mail order, some pharmacies or health food stores.
about 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese (12 ounces)