lactose intolerant

“I have a cheesemaking kit,” my friend L says. “In case you want to try that sometime.”

I am beside myself. Of course I want to try that sometime, and by sometime I mean immediately and for always. Making our own cheese? Just to have your own cheese on hand at all times? Is this nirvana?

“You do not have a great track record with dairy products,” Other Half says doubtfully. I ignore this. Yogurt is a temperamental diva, subject to fits of temperature (too hot! too cold!) and materials (did you use saran wrap?) and whimsy (apparently). I think we can all agree this is different. This comes in a kit. I am all about kits.

“I’ll bring it over,” she says. She doesn’t know about the hex on my place, which is probably the German word for “Things Go Horribly, Horribly Wrong in this Kitchen”. (Kuchenkatastrophe, my German-speaking friend says, but I’m genuinely not sure that’s expansive enough.)

“Okay,” I agree. I have forgotten about it too.

It really seems simple enough. Milk (that isn’t ultra pasteurized). Rennet (comes in handy kit). Citric acid (ditto). Dissolve citric acid into water, add the milk, heat, stir in rennet. Watch it get all weird and curdled (in a good way). Separate the whey (which looks like lemonade but SO isn’t. Just be cautious when pouring a glass of yellowish stuff in your refrigerator, is what I’m saying, as Other Half probably should’ve been later. Never mind about that.)

“This is the stage when it should be shiny and stretchy like taffy,” she says. We stare at it. Well, it is none of those things. It is lumpy and liquidy and somewhat tacky to the touch, the culinary love child of cottage cheese and preschool paste.

We give it some time. We stretch and squish and fold. It breaks apart in our hands. “It’s supposed to get all stretchy,” she says again.  She’s definitely looking stressed.

“It looks like ricotta,” I say hopefully. I don’t know why, like I might get partial credit if I come up with some kind of cheese! any kind of cheese! it totally counts!

“There is a way to make ricotta,” L says, “and this is not it.”

We manhandle our not-ricotta-and-yet-definitely-not mozzarella for another 15 minutes before she gives in. It’s just not going to be mozzarella. It has different dreams. I start digging around in my cabinet for tupperware.

“You can keep it,” she says grimly. Her disappointment with the situation is palpable.

I, on the other hand, am accustomed to these outcomes, and I am, frankly, delighted it’s edible at all. I can actually use this (and you know how we like cheese! any kind of cheese!). I am not that distressed to get to keep the whole pot.

“Did you make ricotta?” Other Half asks later, when he sees it in the refrigerator.

“Kinda!” I reply.

And we did use it. We put it on flatbread as a white pizza, combining the ricotta texture and the mozzarella taste, which is extremely efficient pizza-making, if you ask me; melted it into cheese toast the next day; crumbled it into a lasagna a few days later.

At about that point it got a little stiff, though: less of a “hard cheese” and more like “drying concrete mix” so we gave up on it. We love our cheese, but we understand there are limits.

I’m prepared to try another round, though. L’s kit makes 6 kinds of cheese, so come on over anytime!  The kuchenkatastrophe always likes a new challenge.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ihtreuer
    Jan 31, 2014 @ 12:27:30

    Keep at it, Mozzarella can be tricky at times. Don’t be discouraged, it took me a little while to get Mozzarella down.

    Reply

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