Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
When you have as many goats go through kidding as I do, eventually you have to do something with all that milk. In the past I’ve done things like feed the milk to the chickens, but it always seemed wasteful. Many people I know who have goats and pigs often feed the pigs the extra milk. If you’re butchering pigs, it’s not as bad, because the milk does a great job in fattening up pigs. But there is another way to preserve that milk goodness, and that is to make cheese.
My Introduction to Cheesemaking
I actually stumbled across how to make cheese reading somebody’s blog. They were making microwave mozzarella, which incidentally is very delicious. My first attempts were pretty abysmal, and I wasted a lot of milk. So, you get the benefit of learning from my mistakes. Now that I’m an “old pro,” you can rest assured that this will work. I’ve made this with both cow’s milk and goat’s milk, and it turns out fine. There are some tricks that you need to know about your ingredients, but I’ll get into that later.
Understand that go through a lot of milk to make a little bit of cheese. A gallon of milk will only make enough cheese about the size of a baseball to a softball, if you’re lucky. The rest of it is whey, which you can use for other things, including a treat for any of your animals. You can also use whey instead of water for more nutritious bread, if you bake bread. Otherwise, you’re going to be something a lot of whey down the drain, which is a bit wasteful.
Sourcing Your Ingredients
The first thing to be aware of is the type of milk you use. You can use either raw milk or pasteurized milk, but you can’t use ultra-pasteurized milk. The reason why ultra-pasteurized milk is no good in cheesemaking is because ultra-pasteurization overcooks the milk and it will not form curds that you will make into cheese. There’s nothing more frustrating than using ultra-pasteurized milk and discover that you have nothing but hot milk with very little separation.
Standard grocery store milk is almost always ultra-pasteurized. If it lasts a long time, i.e. more than a week, you can rest assured that the milk you’re using is ultra-pasteurized. If in doubt, ask the milk producer. Here in Montana, we have two producers of milk that only pasteurize. Since I use my goats’ milk, I pasteurize on a daily basis, and do not ultra-pasteurized.
To make microwave mozzarella, you will need a whole gallon of milk. I usually use day old goat’s milk, but I hear that the fresher the better.
Other Ingredients and Supplies
You’ll need the following things to make microwave mozzarella:
• Citric acid and rennet — both types used in making cheese. Do not use the generic citric acid. I don’t understand what the difference is, but if you use anything other than that which is intended for cheesemaking, you’re going to be disappointed. The place where I source my cheesemaking ingredients is New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. They even have some beginner kits that I highly recommend, including a mozzarella kit.
• A pot large enough to heat up milk on a stove
• A nonreactive spoon
• Non-chlorinated water
• Microwave-safe bowl
Next time, I’ll go through the recipe for your very own microwave mozzarella. So stay tuned.
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