I must give major props to the DH (pictured above - isn't he handsome?). He was a total partner with me in this, and it made it that much more fun. Together, we carefully monitored the milk as it was heating on the stove. At 90 degrees F, we added citric acid. At 150 degrees F, we added the rennet, and the curdling began in earnest! Rennet historically comes either from processed calf stomach (gross, but reality). There is now vegetarian rennet, which is what was part of the kit that I got. **note - if you are a hard core veggie, you should really check and see what kind of rennet is used in your favorite cheese. There are lots of vegetarian cheese out there now. You should be able to find lots of yummy kinds.
Mmmmm...look what adding rennet does to heated milk! The white blobby bits are the curds, and the clear yellow-y liquid is the whey. We scooped the curds out into a bowl, and pressed them with our (scrupulously clean) hands to get more of the whey out. Then, the whole thing went in the microwave for a minute. Not conventional, I know, but I was just following instructions.
After one minute, we stirred it with a spoon, and it turned into a curd-y blob. The curd squeaked a little. Not like anything else I've ever seen. Not exactly tasty looking, but it was MY curd-y blob, and I loved it! After another 30 seconds in the microwave, and the addition of salt, it turned into this fabulous goo! Kind of like silly putty, but tasty! And, incredibly hot! The bowl next to the cheese goo is ice water for putting the fully formed cheese balls into to cool them off, but I was also using it to keep my delicate little fingers from burning!
Isn't that the most cunning little ball of mozzarella ever? Tasty too! I'm serving them up tonight with a little olive oil/herb/garlic marinade, some heirloom tomatoes and basil. Yummy! Good thing we were able to restrain ourselves from eating all of our little cheese babies right out of the bowl.
Mr. Snout really wanted to help/scarf down all of the fresh cheese. He was sadly mistaken, but I had to give him credit! The DH and I were so proud of ourselves! The whole process was pretty stress free (after the initial panic over how best to check the temperature of the milk), and conquering science in this way is just an incredible feeling for a Sunday afternoon.
I'm sure I'll be dreaming about this tonight! Give it a try! You'll feel like a million bucks (and you'll save a couple bucks at the store on mozzarella)!