The e-mail said:
SUBJECT: For something new
You should try this recipe for making fresh mozzarella. I'll give you the ingredients you may not have at home so you don't have to buy them.
How could I refuse? I'm an adventurous cook, and I LOVE to eat. The recipe was called 30-Minute Mozzarella, so it shouldn't take a lot of time. I got the citric acid and rennet from my friend Dani and was ready to go.
Well, almost ready. The recipe called for unchlorinated water, so I had to let some set on the counter for 24 hours. Dani said I should use whole milk, so I had to go buy a gallon. It looked so much richer than the skim milk (Donald calls it "colored water") that I usually get!
The directions said to measure out everything before you started; I needed 1 1/2 level tsp. citric acid dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water, and 1/4 tsp. rennet (or a quarter of the tablet Dani gave me, crushed) diluted in 1/4 cool water. I poured the milk into a pan, put it on the stove, and started heating it:
After a few minutes, the milk was the right temperature for adding the citric acid; about 5 minutes later, right on cue, it began to curdle!
It was time to add the rennet. I stirred it in and kept heating the mixture. My directions said that when the milk was just over 100 degrees, the curds should be pulling away from the sides, and the whey should be clear. That WAS NOT happening to my pot! I cooked it a little longer, then took out the curds that were formed. This is what I got--check out the un-clear pot of whey in the back:
I figured I didn't have anything to lose, so I dissolved the rest of the citric acid in some more water and added it to the milk. Immediately lots of curds formed and the whey was acceptably clear.
The next step was to press out as much of the whey as possible, then microwave the curds several times in the microwave, squeezing out the accumulated whey after each time. Yes, it was hot on my hands! I added salt, and then started kneading the cheese. The directions said that it would be finished when it could be pulled into ropes like taffy, but if the curds broke I should reheat them a bit more in the microwave. I reheated it several short periods. Maybe my microwave has fewer watts than the one they used for the recipe. I never could get it to be taffy-like, but it tasted like mozzarella, so I formed it into balls and put it in the refrigerator to eat for dinner:
After it chilled for several hours it was much denser and cut into nice slices. The cheese really classed up our leftover spaghetti tonight.