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ITALIAN CHEESE KIT BOOKLET

Mozzarella

Yield: Approx. 3/4 lb.

This mozzarella recipe takes just 30 minutes to make, but it might take some practice.  This is a fun project to do with kids!

 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon cheese salt (optional)
  • 1 gallon cow or goat milk
  • 1 1/4 cup cool, chlorine-free water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1/4 rennet tablet

 

Supplies:

  • A large pot, big enough to hold one gallon milk
  • Thermometer
  • Colander
  • Slotted spoon (not plastic)
  • Long knife
  • Microwaveable bowl (if using a microwave to stretch the curd) or a small pot (if using the stovetop method to stretch the curd)
  • Rubber gloves (optional)
  • Large bowl of water, placed in the refrigerator and large bowl of water, place in the freezer, before beginning

 

Instructions:

  1. Dissolve 1/4 rennet tablet in 1/4 cup water.  Wrap the rest of the tablet in plastic and store it in the freezer.
  2. Mix 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid into 1 cup water; stir until the citric acid is dissolved. Pour mixture into the large pot.
  3. Add 1 gallon milk to the pot.  Stir vigorously with the slotted spoon while heating the milk to 90°F (88°F if using raw milk).
  4. Take pot off the burner. Slowly stir in the rennet with an up-and-down motion of the slotted spoon for approximately 30 seconds.
  5. Cover the pot and let sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. If using raw milk, let sit for 10 minutes. Check the curd at this point. It should look like custard, with a clear separation between the curd (solid) and the whey (liquid), If the curd is too soft or the whey is too milky, let sit for a few minutes more.
  6. Cut the curd with a knife that reaches to the bottom of the pot.
  7. Put the pot back on the stove and slowly heat it while stirring the curd with the slotted spoon.  (A) if using raw milk, heat to 90°F.  (B) if you're using pasteurized milk, and you're going to use the microwave to stretch the curds, heat it to 105°F.  (C) if you're using pasteurized milk, and you're going to heat it using the stovetop to stretch the curds, heat it to 110°F.
  8. Take the pot off the burner and stir slowly for 2 to 5 minutes.  More stirring will make a firmer cheese.

 

USING A MICROWAVE TO STRETCH THE CURDS:

9a. Ladle the curds into a large microwavable bowl and drain off the whey.  Use rubber gloves if you like.  Don't press too much.

9b. Microwave for one minute, then fold the curds gently into the center of the bowl, draining off more whey.  Add 1 teaspoon salt (optional).

9c. Microwave for another 30 seconds.  The curd should be 160-170°F now.  If it isn't, microwave it for another 30 seconds.

9d. Stretch the curd by pulling it like taffy until it is soft and shiny.  The more you work the cheese, the firmer it will be.

 

USING A STOVETOP WATER BATH TO STRETCH THE CURDS:

9a. Heat a pot of water to 185°F. Ladle the curds into a colander, folding them together gently toward the center and draining off the whey as you go.

9b. Dip the colander containing the curds carefully into the hot water a few times, then use the slotted spoon to fold the curds back into the center of the colander until they become stretchy. This will happen when the curds reach 160°-170°F.

9c. Remove the curds from the colander and stretch them like taffy.  If curds do not stretch easily, return them to the pot. At this point add cheese salt, if desired. Then stretch the curd by pulling it like taffy until it is soft and shiny. The more you work with the cheese the firmer it will be.

10. Form the cheese. Form the stretched curd into one large ball, or a few smaller balls.  Braid it, make it into a log, or roll it into a number of sticks. Be creative!

11. Cool the cheese by submerging it in the bowl of refrigerated water. Leave 15 minutes, then put into the bowl of ice water. This cooling step is important to keep the cheese from becoming grainy.

  

Whole Milk Ricotta

Ricotta is traditionally made with the whey left over from other cheeses, including mozzarella (see our website for instructions). However, you don’t need whey to make delicious ricotta: this whole milk ricotta is sweet, creamy, and an excellent choice for first-time cheesemakers.

 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon milk
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid (more if using raw milk)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Salt to taste

 

Supplies:

  • A pot big enough to hold 1 gallon of milk
  • A large spoon for stirring
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Colander
  • Ladle
  • Butter muslin
  • Large bowl
  • Rubber band or twist-tie
  • Twine

 

Instructions:

  1. Pour milk into the large pot.
  2. Add citric acid (and salt, if you are using it).  Stir to combine.
  3. Slowly heat to 195°-205°F. Stir often to avoid scorching.
  4. When milk starts to curdle noticeably, turn off heat and allow to set for one hour. Do not stir.
  5. Line the colander with butter muslin. Place colander over a large bowl.
  6. Ladle curdled milk gently into the lined colander. Bring the corners of the muslin together and tie them. Hand this bag of muslin containing the cheese off of a cabinet handle with the large bowl underneath to catch the whey. Drain for 30 minutes or longer.
  7. Place the curds in a bowl and add heavy cream.
  8. Refrigerate for up to a week covered. Ricotta may be frozen.

 

 

Ricotta Salata

Ricotta Salata is a dry, salted ricotta that can be eaten while still very young. It can be sliced and used as a dessert or garnish cheese, or it may be aged (five weeks or more) and used as a grated cheese. The younger it is, the saltier it will be. If aging the Ricotta Salata, by two months it will have bloomed into a very lovely mellow cheese. It is traditionally made using sheep milk, but is just as enjoyable when made with cow milk.

 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon whole cow milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1 teaspoon plug 1 tablespoon cheese salt

 

Supplies:

  • A large pot, big enough to hold 1 gallon of milk
  • A large spoon or rubber spatula for stirring
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Colander
  • Ladle or skimmer
  • Butter muslin
  • Ricotta basket with storage container

 

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, combine milk, cream, citric acid, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Mix very well using a wire whisk in a slow up-and-down motion.  Put the pot on medium-low heat and slowly bring the temperature up to 185°-195°, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula to keep milk from scorching.  This process should take about 20 minutes.
  2. Once the milk reaches the right temperature, it may start to separate and the curds begin to form. When the separation process is complete, with the whey becoming a yellowish green and appearing slightly opaque, remove pot from heat. Gently slide a rubber spatula around the edges of the curd mass and rotate it slowly. Cover the pot and do not disturb for 10 minutes.
  3. Put a colander over a very large bowl or container large enough to catch all of the whey. Line the colander with damp butter muslin and ladle the curds from the pot into the colander.  Using a skimmer to get all of the curds out of the pot, but if some are stuck to the bottom of the pot, leave them, to avoid any slightly scorched curds ruining the flavor of your cheese.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of salt over the curds in the colander and mix carefully with clean hands.
  5. Line a ricotta mold with a clean, damp piece of butter muslin and place the mold on a drying rack inside a shallow whey receptacle.
  6. Scoop cheese curds into the mold, pressing very lightly to make a level surface, then fold the ends of the butter muslin over the top.
  7. Place a small weight, about 2 pounds, on top of the ricotta. (A pint jar filled with water seems to do the trick.) Press in this manner for one hour, then pull the cheese out of the mold and unwrap it.
  8. Very carefully invert it, rewrap it with the same cloth, and put it back into the mold. Replace the same weight on top and press it for another 12 hours.
  9. After the pressing time, pull the ricotta out of the mold. Unwrap it carefully, and gently rub the surface with cheese salt. Rewrap the cheese with clean butter muslin, put it into the mold, and put the mold into the refrigerator for another 12 hours.
  10. After chilling, repeat step 9, except that the same butter muslin may be used to rewrap the cheese. Put the cheese back into the refrigerator. Repeat this process every 12 hours for 3 days, after which time the mold is unnecessary. Keep it on a drying rack in the refrigerator. If mold begins to appear, wipe it off gently with a small piece of cheesecloth wet with a vinegar-water mixture. Continue this unwrapping and salting routine for one week, replacing the cheese upon the drying rack in the refrigerator each time.
  11. After 7 days, brush off any surface salt. Rewrap the cheese and continue to age in the refrigerator until it reaches the texture and consistency desired. Wrap it in cheese paper and continue to store in the fridge. If cheese begins to dry out, wrap in plastic wrap. Enjoy immediately or age up to 2 months.

 

 

Mascarpone

Mascarpone is a light and fluffy soft cheese, traditionally used to make Tiramisu and Cannoli. It’s also delicious mounded in a bowl and topped with fresh fruit.

 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart cream or half-and-half
  • 1/4 teaspoon tartaric acid

 

Supplies:

  • Pot with double-boiler
  • Thermometer
  • Colander
  • Slotted spoon (not plastic)
  • Butter muslin

 

Instructions:

  1. In a double boiler, gently heat the cream to 190°F. Use a thermometer to avoid over-heating. While cream is heating, dissolve tartaric acid into 2 tablespoons water.
  2. Once the cream has reached 190°F, remove from heat and add tartaric acid mixture. Whisk the mixture into the cream for 30 seconds; blend in thoroughly.
  3. Let the cream mixture sit for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cream will thicken and should coat the back of the spoon.
  4. Place colander in a bowl. Double-line colander with sterile butter muslin. Pour coagulated cream into the cloth and drain for 1 to 2 hours or until the desired consistency is achieved.
  5. Spoon mascarpone into a storage container and place in the refrigerator to chill. As it chills it will continue to thicken. Use within a day or two for best flavor. Keeps for up to 1 week.

 

 

Mascarpone Apple Torte

Part apple pie, part cheesecake, 100% delicious!

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 

Topping:
  • 4 cups peeled and diced apples (try Golden Delicious or Granny Smith)
  • 1/2 cup unrefined sugar (Rapadura or Sucanat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped crispy nuts (walnuts or pecans, soaked 12 hours and then dehydrated until crispy)

 

Crust:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour

 

Filling:

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened (or use all mascarpone)
  • 1 large pastured egg

 

Topping Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix apples, sugar, and cinnamon together until apples are completely coated with sugar and cinnamon. Stir in chopped nuts. Set aside to sprinkle over cream cheese filling later.

Crust Instructions:

  1. In a small saucepan, gently heat butter and honey over low heat until very soft. Butter does not need to be fully melted. Stir in almond flour and vanilla to combine.
  2. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Press dough onto the bottom and up the sides about 3/4 inch. Place in refrigerator while mixing filling.

Filling Instructions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into prepared crust.
  2. Sprinkle apple topping over cream cheese mixture.
  3. Bake at 400°F for 25 to 35 minutes, until filling is mostly firm and topping is nicely browned. Filling will continue to set as it cools. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate for several hours before cutting.

 

 

No-Cook Chocolate Ricotta Pudding

This pudding is thick and so rich, a small dish will more than satisfy you. It's a perfect no-cook dessert for hot summer days.

 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Sucanat, sugar, or powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pound whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder

 

Instructions:

  1. Place Sucanat or sugar in food processor and process to make powdered Sucanat (or use powdered sugar).
  2. Add vanilla extract and process briefly.
  3. Add ricotta and cocoa powder. Blend for a minute, scrape down the sides with a flexible spatula, and blend for another minute, or until smooth and rich. To thin the pudding just a bit, add a splash of milk.
  4. Spoon the mixture into serving dishes and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 24 hours.
  5. Serve with fresh berries and crumbled crunchy cookies.

  

Marinated Mozzarella Appetizer

This always disappears quickly at parties. Serve with fancy toothpicks!

 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch mozzarella cheese, cooled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes 
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced fine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or slightly less than 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • Salt to taste

 

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for 3-4 hours up to overnight. Let come to room temperature before serving. Olive oil may congeal overnight in refrigerator, but will liquefy again at room temperature.