Paula Harris, a longtime friend, sent us a link to an article about her cheesemaking classes in Duxbury, MA and Jody Feinberg was kind enough to let us print it here. Paula said she loves to take every opportunity to plug our company, and we definitely appreciate it! (That’s Paula on the right in the picture below.)
By JODY FEINBERG
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Mar 17, 2010 @ 10:52 AM
Heat milk, add a few ingredients, drain, heat and knead. Can such simple steps produce a delicious cheese in 30 minutes? After tasting the mozzarella she made, Pam Smith seemed surprised by the answer.
“Wow! It tastes like cheese,” said Smith, who made the cheese in a Duxbury continuing education class. “I’m looking forward to making this again.”
Mozzarella is the quick-and-easy cheese, the one home cooks can whip up to complement favorites such as homegrown tomatoes, homemade pizza, eggplant dishes and wine.
“More and more people who love cheese are making their own,” instructor Paula Harris told her class of 10 women. “It tastes great, and people like to know where their food comes from.”
Harris runs WH Cornerstone Investments of Duxbury, but the financial planner developed her passion for cheesemaking after her volunteer efforts to permanently protect and preserve a 145-acre working dairy farm in Duxbury, Historic O’Neil Farm. To learn to turn milk into cheese, she took a daylong workshop at New England Cheese Making Supply Co. in central Massachusetts.
Mozzarella, one of seven cheeses Harris learned to make in the class, is best suited for a short class because it is the quickest to make. A playful cheese that can be stretched like taffy and shaped into balls, it combines old-fashioned kneading with the modern heat of a microwave.
In Italian, mozzarella means “to cut,” which refers to the kneading motion.
“This is a simple, forgiving recipe, so don’t overthink it,” Harris said. “But there are some things you need to be careful about.”
The basic principles are to use heat to create curds – coagulated solids in milk – and to separate the curds from the whey – the remaining fluid. To aid the coagulation, citric acid and an animal- or plant-based enzyme called rennet are added.
Many people order rennet and citric acid through online sites, such as the New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. site, because they are not readily available retail. The company sells these individually and as part of start-to-finish cheesemaking kits.
While mozzarella can be made with milk of any fat content, whole milk makes the most flavorful and moist cheese. Ultra-pasteurized milk will not work because the process kills the required living organisms.
“You want to see it pull away from the sides and see a greenish, yellow tinge to the liquid,” Harris advised.
After the curds formed, the women scored the surface and then used a slotted spoon to transfer portions into a colander. They repeatedly gently pressed the curds, until the whey drained, and then heated the curds in a microwave.
Donning rubber gloves, they kneaded the hot curds with a motion similar to bread kneading, reheating them several times.
“You’re trying to create a solid mass, so you don’t want to squish the curds,” Harris said. “You want to fold it and work quickly while it’s hot, but you don’t want to overhandle it because it can get tough.”
Experienced in bread making, Heather Sapia was one of the first to turn out a lovely smooth, shiny white mound.
“This is how it’s supposed to look,” said Harris to the other women.
“I’d always heard it was easy to do, and it is,” she said. “It tastes a little different. It’s got a nice flavor and is smoother on the palette.”
Packing her cheese mound into a plastic container, Laura Doherty looked forward to serving it at a family gathering.
TOMATO MOZZARELLA APPETIZER
Fresh cubed mozzarella
Fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
Wrap a basil leaf around a cube of cheese. Skewer on toothpick, then add a cherry tomato.
Make the vinaigrette by combining the vinegar, mustard, and lemon juice. Add the oil in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Makes about 3/4 of a cup).
Place skewers on a serving platter and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette or a favorite salad dressing.