Vegans Look Away: We Made CHEESE

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OMG OMG we learned how to make fresh mozzarella and spreadable goat cheese yesterday!!

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How much do I love Gabriola?! Local resident Paula teaches people how to make cheese out of her home kitchen, and after seeing a post on the community board about spaces available last Sunday we impulsively signed ourselves up. It was a revelation. We were provided with a recipe book and enough ingredients to make 4 batches of cheese at home (we just have to buy the milk), as well as made a batch of mozzarella to take home, and two batches of goat’s cheese. ALSO Paula made us an amazing fresh lunch and provided wine pairings for the cheeses, and we were given a huge jug of whey to take home. It was a great day (10:30am-2:30pm) and totally worth it.

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When we arrived Paula already had the goat cheese curds hanging to drain and ready to be mixed and pressed. She divided it out for the 5 of us in the class and we added some herbs to taste. I, of course, went for the lavender. Because I’m obsessed. LAVENDER GOAT CHEESE.

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After mixing it into the creamy cheese we transferred it into a cheesecloth-lined cheese mold (which was heart shaped) to be gently pressed under the weight of a can to expel excess moisture/whey.

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Lunch included a freshly baked thin crust pizza, a fresh mozza salad with tomatoes and avocado, and a mozza roll with pesto, sundried tomatoes and a balsamic reduction drizzle. Paula also provided a huge salad with blueberries from her garden and a home-made tahini dressing, fresh baked bread, home-made crackers, a raspberry and cayenne jam (again, home-made) and a small platter of smoked meat and salmon for the meat-eaters. AMAZING.

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Then we started in on the mozzarella!

1-1/2 tsp citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
1 gallon whole milk
1/4 tsp liquid rennet or 1/4 tablet rennet dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
1 tsp good quality salt

Pour milk into a large pot and stir in the citric acid solution with a large strainer spoon (using an up and down motion rather than swirly stirring motion).

Heat milk to 90F stirring a little.

After the milk has come up to temperature, remove from heat and add rennet mixture then cover and let sit for 5 minutes. ***The rennet mixture we used was vegetable sourced, rather than animal sourced*** Though we were making an obviously not vegan cheese, I still felt better knowing that the rennet we added was not from the stomach lining of a slaughtered calf (gross gross gross). The milk we used in the class was pasteurized store bought milk for liability reasons; Paula makes her cheese from raw milk obtained from her cow. Raw milk is controversial for a number of safety-related reasons, so she cannot use raw milk in selling her cheeses commercially or in teaching people how to make cheese themselves. It’s a complex issue I would love to learn more about, as knowing the source of the milk I am using to make cheese would make me feel infinitely better about making and eating lots and lots of cheese. I suppose in the meantime I will do my best to purchase organic and local (if possible) cow and goat milk.

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Back to the mozza! Once it has sat for 5 minutes, remove the towel and check the curd. Slice into it; it’s ready if the cut is clean (it looks like custard). If not ready let it sit for a bit longer, but if it’s ready to go cut it with a knife (see image above) and put the pot back on the stove.

Heat the curds to 110F, moving the curds gently with a slotted spoon once the curd has started to move away from the edges of the pot (again, see image above). Once it has reached temperature, remove from heat and let sit for 2-5 minutes, gently stirring.

Pour the curds into a cheesecloth lined strainer stacked on a pot (you want to keep the whey that passes through the cloth for the next step, and in the end save it for later use in smoothies, soups, to replace the water in bread recipes etc, if you are into that kind of thing – it’s got a lot of beneficial nutrients but I think I would prefer to keep my soups and smoothies vegan. Though on the other hand it would be a shame to just waste it…)

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Pick up the cheese cloth with the curds in it and hold the edges to make a ball that holds all the curds inside. Put the pot of whey you strained back onto the stove and heat to 165F. While it heats, strain the excess moisture out of the curds by gently squeezing until it forms a semi-cohesive ball. Once the whey is up to temperature gently place the ball of curds into it to heat up.

Now comes the fun part! Using thick dish gloves (it’s HOT especially for a wuss like me) gently knead the curd in your hands until it melts, getting shiny. When it’s properly melted it starts to stretch like taffy. If the cheese gets too cold (it breaks rather than stretches) just dunk it back into the whey for a few seconds. The result is a hunk of fresh mozzarella that looks like this:

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You can shape the mozza however you like, Paula rolled hers out into a big flat piece that she then spread pesto and sundried tomatoes on and rolled into the dish we had for lunch. You could also do a log shape, or a big block like I did.

Before we left we removed our chevre from the mold and transferred it to a container for transport. I’m sooooo excited to eat it!!

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10 comments

  1. yay! I am so excited to start making cheese again (and maybe actually make some that my kids will eat) now that we are milking three of our goats instead of just the one. Just wait until you make soap…you’ll be goat shopping in no time =)

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