last sunday i tried my hand at cheese making for the first time. my mother-in-law was visiting. she hadn't been able to tolerate any dairy products for the last six years, until she tried some raw milk cheese and discovered it didn't cause her any trouble. her visit was just the excuse i needed to enter the world of raw milk. i've been curious about it, but worried that it would taste too different from what i was accustomed to. also, the laws in oregon mandate that raw milk must be purchased at the farm and nowhere else. i probably would have tried it sooner if i could have picked some up at the farmer's market instead of taking a 50 minute drive to the farm, but that's the way it is here and it was totally worth it. we all tried sips of the milk before we made the cheese. it was so good! it was what i was used to tasting, just a richer, yummier version. i fear i'll find myself making that drive again and again.
i wish i had gotten some photos of the Kookoolan Farms farm store. it was stocked with all sorts of wonderful things and had a lovely wooden barn and toy animal set that gigi had fun playing with. we picked up one gallon of milk, a quart of kombucha, a dozen eggs, and rennet and citric acid for cheese making.
mozzarella is surprisingly easy to make. i used the recipe from Home Dairy by Ashley English. in the recipe she says to watch the thermometer so you don't overheat your milk. she wasn't kidding. 88 degrees really isn't as warm as you think it's going to be. i didn't test it until it was already at 93 and then spent the next 30 minutes waiting for it to cool back down. i was so sure i'd already ruined it.
after adding the citric acid and rennet it changes into curds really quickly. its amazing to watch it transform before your eyes.
then the heating and kneading process begins. we passed the cheese around, each kneading it for a bit. here's my mom kneading away. it's quite a workout for your hands.
eventually most of the watery whey has left the curd and you're left with a smooth ball of lovely cheese.
combine with home grown tomatoes for the best caprese ever!
if you're interested in finding some raw milk in your area, click here. always research where your milk is coming from. while raw milk is full of beneficial microbes that pasteurized milk doesn't have, it also can have not-so-nice microbes too. make sure that your farm is crazy-diligent about cleanliness!