This recipe is heavily based on Gourmet magazine's take, and well worth the hours it takes. Dedicate a lazy summer afternoon and you will be rewarded. You must use the best milk you can find—here a local dairy that sits right on the Pacific Coast less than 100 miles away called Straus creamery. Paired with tomatoes and basil from the garden—just perfection.
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Servings: One ball (1/4 pound); makes four balls or about one pound
Time: Less than 30 minutes active; About 5–6 hours total
1 gallon whole milk, best quality
1 1/8 teaspoon citric acid
20 drops vegetarian liquid rennet
1/2 cup salt
thermometer, string, cheesecloth and plastic gloves
1. In a large pot, heat milk and citric acid over low heat until it reaches 88 degrees F, stirring occasionally. Maintain temperature between 88 and 91 for one hour, removing from heat as needed. Milk will curdle.
2. Dissolve rennet in warm water and stir into the milk mixture. Let stand until the consistency of soft pudding but firm enough to cut, maintaining 88–91 degrees, about 20–30 minutes.
3. Using a long knife, cut across the stiffened mixture at 1/2" intervals in both directions reaching down to the bottom of the pot. Let stand 5 minutes keeping temperature between 88–91. Then gently stir curds every 10 minutes for 30 minutes. Finally, let curds stand another 30 minutes undisturbed, maintaining the temperature.
4. Put a colander over a large bowl lined with cheesecloth. Pour the curds into the colander and gather up the cheesecloth, tie with a string (being careful not to squeeze the curds), and hang over the bowl to drain for three hours at room temperature. Cheesecloth should not touch the liquid.
5. Heat a large pot of water with salt (1/2 cup for every five quarts) to 170 degrees F. When the three hours are done, remove the cheesecloth and cut the curd into quarters—discard the liquid. Pour some of the hot water in a large bowl and return to heat to keep hot.
6. With gloves on (they will help guard against the heat of the water), place one of the quarters into the bowl of hot water. Let the curd ball melt slightly for a few minutes. Begin to work the curds in the hot water, pulling and stretching as you fold until it becomes smooth and elastic without tearing, about 5 minutes. Form a ball by tucking the outside into the center and pinching edges together.
7. Place the cheese in a container of cool water and form remaining balls in the same manner reusing and reheating hot salted water. Allow balls to cool completely before eating—refrigerating in the cool water to speed up the process. Eat as soon as you can after, but cheese is best within 5 days.
Writer Bio: Adrienne D. Capps loves food AND is a vegetarian! These things are not mutually exclusive in her world. She is passionate about eating, drinking, cooking, teaching, reading about food and growing food. Her goal with her food blog, Vegetarianized.com, is to open up the world of vegetarian cooking and eating to the veg-friendly and the veg-curious in an accessible way. She promises never to try to convert or make you feel guilty—just that eating less meat can be part of a healthy, fun, and above all, tasty, lifestyle.