South Park Magazine

May 5, 2011

Eight things you should know about making mozzarella from scratch

Emily returns to blogging with an attempt at homemade-from-scratch cheese.

(1) If you scrapbook, like pictures, or, I don't know, have a blog about simplicity and self-sufficiency, make sure your camera HAS BATTERIES so the adventure of cheese-making is documented. (2) Eat an entire meal before beginning, and also have a plate of snacks out while you work. Because the desire to eat one pound of unfinished mozzarella will be overwhelming. (3) So, it's easy. Surprisingly easy. I really wish I hadn't violated rule #1. This is going to sound simplistic, but you heat milk on the stove, add enzymes (available at any health food store or online) and rennet, scoop the whey out with a straining-thingy, heat again, strain again, heat again, strain again, heat again, strain again, add some salt, massage into cheese shape. Twenty-five minutes, people! I was shocked. It requires no special equipment, just stove, microwave, pot, strainer, food-safe thermometer. (4) Things to have in your house before making mozzarella: Fancy crusty bread or pizza dough, basil, olive oil, maybe some sun-dried peppers or tomatoes. You will be very sad if you do not have these things the second your cheese is done. (5) If someone makes you homemade pizza with the homemade cheese they just made, and then asks you how it is, "It's fine" is the WRONG ANSWER. (6) In fear in my heart, no matter how easy it really-truly-no-shit-really this was, I am still too lazy to do it again. But I like having the skill, because I will need it when corporations kill the world and the only way I will have mozzarella again while living on a hideaway compound is to make it myself. Yea! (7) There's a great scene in Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle where she's at a Lebanese food market and the women behind the counter, upon realizing Kingsolver makes her own cheese, pronounces her a "real housewife." And Kingsolver writes that it took her decades, but she can finally take "real housewife" as a compliment. I know what she means. (8) You will feel a strange, shiny sense of empowerment radiating within you for 12-24 hours after successfully making cheese. Plan ahead for this: How do you want to maximize this power? You will feel emboldened, maybe emboldened enough to finally tell off a rude person you know. The options are endless. Enjoy. You have made cheese.

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