Failure is sometimes the path to revelation. Especially in the cheese world, it would seem.
Yesterday I set out to make a “30 minute Mozzarella”. This involved warming milk with citric acid, then warming again with a fairly strong veggie rennet solution. Once the gently stirred curds had formed, the whey was pressed out, gently kneaded, then (shock horror) microwaved for a couple of blasts (kneading after each blast). The curds are supposed to turn elastic and stretchy and be formable into the – ahem – creamy balls we all know so well. Except they didn’t.
The Curious Incident
Instead the cheese I ended up with bore a striking resemblance to ricotta. Indeed, for all intents and purposes, it was ricotta. And, it must be added, really tasty ricotta. Why was this so? How had I messed up so well? Too much or too little heat? Incorrect quantities? Badly prepared citric acid or rennet? Heck, I needed to know.
On investigation, I found that the culprit was the milk. Seemingly, milk which has been treated to too much heat during its processing (at the dairy) will not form mozzarella, as the proteins have been damaged. They will not adhere and become stretchy in the manner required. The solution to this is simple: next time use a different source of milk.
Or next time, to quote Samuel Beckett: “fail again, fail better”.
The Breakfast Club
Anyhow, I now had a splendid ricotta which worked its creamy magic on the homemade pizzas we had planned. It browned off nicely, without turning to mush. Perfect. And this morning I’ve had it with some top notch bread from the baker in town. Esplendido!