Anyone who knows me in real life will tell you, I LOVE cheese. And I don't mean a little bit, either! I add cheese to literally everything I cook. And not just cheddar or American cheeses...I love Muenster, Havarti, Pepper Jack, Gouda, Swiss, Queso Fresco, Feta, Ricotta and more! As a matter of fact, the only cheeses I won't eat are Blue Cheese and Gorgonzola, because they just look absolutely disgusting. I mean, who wants to eat something that is very visibly moldy? Not me! But while many women go gaga for chocolate, (which I am NOT a big fan of) my culinary love affair has always been with cheese. Ever since I was a child, I loved cheese above all other foods. I remember being a little kid and sneaking the cheese packets out of the macaroni and cheese boxes. My parents even had to keep the cheese locked up because while they wanted to use it for preparing meals, I had other ideas for it. Yes, I have a definite cheese addiction! I even have an entire "Cheese Drawer" in my refrigerator! A big one, at that! Yes, one of our crisper drawers is jam-packed with nothing but a wide variety of creamy and delectable cheeses. Cheese, much like bacon, makes everything better, in my humble opinion.
So when I heard about the cheesemaking kits at New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, I knew this was something I just HAD to try! Lucky for me, they graciously offered to let me try their Ricki's Mozzarella & Ricotta Cheesemaking Kit! Woo-Hoo! I immediately began planning all of the wonderful meals I would prepare with fresh, homemade cheeses. From homemade pizzas and lasagnas to wonderful cheese and fruit plates, I could not wait! I had never had fresh cheeses before, so I knew we were in for quite a treat!
When my kit arrived, I was thrilled to see there were enough supplies to make a whopping 30 batches of cheese! Wow! Now that's a lot of cheesy deliciousness! We read through the instructions very carefully, since cheesemaking is in fact a science, and realized we had a few pitfalls we had to overcome before we could successfully make our first batch of cheese. First, we had to find a stainless steel pot large enough to accommodate a whole gallon of milk. I have a ton of cookware, but none of it was stainless steel. Aluminum will not work properly for cheesemaking. So we ran out and bought a 5 quart stainless steel pot, which we found was just big enough. Success!
Our next obstacle was finding milk that is compatible for cheesemaking. Farm fresh will offer a higher yield due to higher butterfat content of course, but some store bought milk will work also. The trick is finding milk that is NOT Ultra Pasteurized. More and more milk is being heated to super high temperatures to sterilize it, and these milks are not ideal for making cheese. Luckily, Ultra Pasteurized milk must be labeled as such somewhere on the packaging. (You may have to closely examine the jug or carton, as the UP label can be placed anywhere, and may be very tiny.) We were happy to find that the Great Value milk we buy at WalMart is compatible with cheesemaking. This made our lives so much easier, as we didn't have to go on a wild goose chase to find usable milk!
Once we were sure we understood the instructions and has all of our equipment ready to go, we embarked on our first cheesemaking adventure! We chose to make Mozzarella for our first batch. Ricki's Cheesemaking Kit conveniently contains pretty much everything you'll need to make cheese in the comfort of your own home! It contains a Dairy Thermometer,Butter Muslin, Citric Acid, Vegetable Rennet Tablets, Cheese Salt and even a handy Recipe Booklet to help you create yummy dishes with the cheeses made!
We were quite surprised at how easy it was to make a batch of creamy, homemade Mozzarella right in our kitchen! The hardest part was paying close attention to the thermometer to make sure the contents of the pot were being heated to the precise temperatures indicated in the instructions. From there, it was smooth sailing. Our first batch was a bit softer than I had expected, and had more of a spreadable quality to it, but I think it was due to the fact that I didn't have any ice cold water to submerge the finished product in to firm it up. The dishwasher was running and interfered somehow with the temperature of the water coming out of the faucet. So instead of being ice cold, it was more on the slightly cool side. That didn't matter to us, though, since the cheese still came out absolutely delicious! I added some garlic and crushed red pepper to my cheese during the final stretch, and it lended a gourmet flavor and feel to our cheese. It was SO good! And making cheese only takes a mere 30 minutes!
Here are some photos from our first cheesemaking experiment!
Overall, we love making homemade cheese with Ricki's Cheesemaking Kit from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. These cheeses are fresh, delicious, and will make store bought cheese just seem silly. Making your own cheeses can also be a great family activity! It is also quite economical. One gallon of milk made almost a whole pound of mozzarella. And this was superior quality, too. Much better than the conventional blocks and bags of cheese found in the dairy aisle of the grocery store. And good cheeses can be incredibly expensive! Considering that one kit will make 30 batches of cheese, this is definitely a money-saver! We had a lot of fun making cheese as a family, and we look forward to many more batches. It seems a little confusing at first, but if you happen to get lost, New England Cheesemaking Supply Company offers a wide range of tutorials and even help from an expert cheesemaker right on their website! This takes all of the guesswork out of the entire process and helps ensure your success. And the best part? Once you have the concept down, each batch gets better and better. Yum!
Want to try your hand at cheesemaking? Here's how you can!
You can purchase this and other great kits and accessories on the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company website.
You can also follow them on Facebook to stay on top of their latest products and promotions!
One very lucky follower will receive a Ricki's Mozzarella & Ricotta Cheesemaking Kit of their own! Yay!
Please use this handy Rafflecopter form to enter. IMPORTANT: For the mandatory comment entry, please include a valid e-mail address IN THE BODY OF YOUR COMMENT! Feel free to use the following format to combat spam: yourname(at)yourprovider(dot)com. If you do not do this, I may not be able to view your e-mail address to contact you if you win!
This giveaway is open to US Residents 18+ and will be open until 12:01AM EST on 7/29/2011. Winner will be chosen at random and will be announced here, tweeted, shared on Facebook, and contacted via e-mail. The winner will have 48 hours to reply and claim their prize. If I receive no response, I will be forced to draw a new winner.
***Disclosure: I received a complimentary product to facilitate my review. No other compensation was provided, and all opinions are 100% honest and have not been influenced in any way.***
PR Friendly Mama!
I'm Brandy, a happily married, proud mama of two munchkins and a teen. You can read more about me HERE. If you're interested in building a working relationship, please feel free to e-mail me at: NewlyCrunchyMamaOf3@gmail.com
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