Monday, 10 December 2012

Mozzarella Capra (American style)

Fresh mozzarella capra -
delicious with tomato and
basil, if your basil survives
dust-bathing chickens (ours
Helen had almost banned mozzarella making, because until recently, it had always ended in dismal failure, and wasted milk. Then one Sunday, for no apparent reason, a real American* mozzarella emerged from the farmhouse kitchen.

Mozzarella cabra - ingredients

4 L goat milk
1 1/4 t citric acid
1/2 t rennet dissolved in 1/4 C water

1. Heat the milk to 88°F. Just before the milk reaches 88°F, sprinkle the citric acid over the top** and stir in. When the milk reaches 88°F, stir in the rennet.

2. Sit for an hour, or until a clean break is achieved. During this time, prepare your brine - combine 8 oz (225 g)  salt with 1 quart (1 liter) of boiled water. Leave to cool (in the fridge or freezer, if need be).

3. When a clean break is achieved, cut curds into 1" (2.4 cm) squares, and drain off a little whey, leaving enough to cover the curds. Sit for 10 minutes.

4. Stir the curds, and cut any that didn't get cut into 1" squares. Heat slowly to 108°F (this is easiest done by placing your pot of curds in a sink or bucket of hot water), and stand at 108°F for 40 minutes, occasionally stirring gently. During this time your curds will matt together and become slightly elastic.

5. Over a stove, heat curds and whey to 140°F, kneading with a spoon whilst heating:

5 a. The curds will knit together - fold them over and press into one another with a spoon. Between 120 and 130°F the curds will become increasingly elastic - dangle them off the edge of your spoon to start stretching them:

Curds at 120°F - starting to get pliable
130°F - starting to get elastic
(but still a long way to go)
Stretchy - almost there...
Smoother and stretchier - progress!
Approaching 140°F...
 5 b. Eventually (by 140°F), you will be able to stretch the curds with two hands:
Stretch! at 140°F, very elastic
(no hands pictured,
as one is busy operating the camera)
Should the curds lose their stretch, simply dip back in the hot whey, fold with your spoon, then resume kneading.

5 c. Knead and stretch until your curds are shiny and smooth.

Brine - fresh mozzarella still shows
the layers from stretching.
6. Drop your ball of mozzarella into the cold brine and leave for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how salty you like it.

7. Reassure your goat that her milk didn't go to waste - this time.

8. Apologize to the pigs, who have always enjoyed failed mozzarella in the past.

Store*** fresh mozzarella in the fridge. A perfectly successful batch of mozzarella will melt when heated. Less successful batches retain their shape somewhat under heat, but are apparently still perfectly edible.

*The difference between American and Italian mozzarella appears to be due to the addition of citric acid in American mozzarella - the citric acid speeds up the acidification process quite significantly. With Italian mozzarella, acidification occurs due to the use of a slower-acting culture (like buttermilk).

**If the citric acid is not stirred into the milk very quickly, it will cause the milk to curdle instantly. If this happens, don't panic - your curds will look funny and wobbly when you cut them (it won't look like a proper clean break, no matter how long you wait), but your mozzarella should still turn out just fine.

***Fresh mozzarella has a limited shelf life. Over the next few weeks, Helen and I will try brining mozzarella, to make it last longer.

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad Helen did not give up in despair. I believe this attempt looks quite wonderful!