Rosey the Riveter

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Homemade Pantry

Last year, I was so excited to add a copy of "The Homemade Pantry" to my collection.  It is a gorgeous book and addresses a topic I am so passionate about... reducing processed foods and making homemade versions of them.  Plus the author, Alana Chernila, is a fellow Masshole.  What's not to love?

I confess that I have not cooked from it the way I wanted, because I didn't make the time.  It called to me from the bookshelf every time I walked by.  I knew that several of my fellow homesteaders had copies, so I decided to ask if anyone would be interested in cooking through it with me.  Turns out, a lot of people were.  Some had it, some ordered it, some decided to use recipes from the authors blog (found HERE).

So starting this week, we will each pick a recipe from the "Chapter of the Week" and make it.  Then we'll share our experiences via blog or the Virginia Urban Homesteaders Facebook Page.  The first chapter is Dairy, and tonight my neighbor Cathy came over to help me make mozarella cheese.

I previously made it once before, using a cheese kit from New England Cheesemaking (and where Ms. Chernila recommends getting your supplies.)  But that was awhile ago. 

First, the necessary supplies.  That's right, just FIVE ingredients: Milk, Salt, Rennet, Water, and Citric Acid.  For the local peeps, Harris Teeter is the only place around that has organic milk that has not been Ultra Pasteurized.  And I got the citric acid at Wine and Cake Hobbies (they frequently have Groupons).

Pour the milk into a large cauldron and heat to 90 degrees. 
Add in the rennet combined with water, stir, and cover.  After 5 minutes, the curds will have solidified.  Cathy does the 'finger test' to make sure it's ready to cut.
 After heating to 110, we transferred the curds to strain out the whey.

Then, the whey gets heated to 170 and it's very important to add the salt.  We love salt.  We might have added even more later.
The curds take a nice bath in the warm whey for a minute.  The fun part is squeezing the liquid out, because at this point it starts to look like cheese.

The bath is repeated several times, with stretching in between.  Once the cheese stretches to about 12", you know it's ready.

We made some into balls and some into string cheese (or 'turds' as Cathy called them.)
I am thinking tomorrow might be a Chicken Parm kind of night.  Or pizza.  I can't decide.  Although there were many different steps involved (I'll have to make about a dozen more batches before I can memorize the process), this is not rocket science.  Everyone should try it at least once.   If you'd like to give it a shot, here's a much more detailed explanation:

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