Like everybody who reads "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," I finished the book inspired to make my own mozzarella. I don’t want to discourage anybody from trying, but it’s not as simple as Kingsolver makes it sound. I’d learned many ways how not to make it and had mostly given up when a friend wrote a story on cheesemaking for our local paper. In the article, she mentioned a cooking store that offers a cheesemaking class. I’d looked everywhere, I thought, and had somehow missed it!
I was able to participate in the class last weekend and it was a lot of fun. The instructor used Rikki’s methods and materials and so everything was very familiar. After demonstrating ricotta and mascarpone, he made a batch of fresh mozzarella. The most important thing I learned was that it doesn’t always work (duh!). The instructor called professional cheesemakers across the country to try to figure out why his mozzarella didn’t always stretch, and they could only offer their sympathy. There was a lot of talk about whether the "cheese gods" were smiling.
Anyway, I paid close attention and, at a certain point, the cheese turned into a form I’ve never seen when I’ve tried it at home. But what I most wanted to know was whether it would taste good, since the batches I’ve made were sorely lacking. When the cheese began to stretch, the instructor pinched off samples, sprinkled them with salt, and handed them out. Scrumptious!
I described how my mozzarella turns into icky goo and asked what I was doing wrong. The instructor had no idea, but he knew exactly what I was talking about. The cheese was so good, I guess I’m just going to have to try again. Stay tuned...