“I think it was ‘Blessed are the cheesemakers.'”

“Well, obviously it’s not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products. ”

Oh, Python. And oh, cheese. We’re big fans of it in this house, let me tell ya. Jay’s grandfather is a retired dairy farmer, so he loves all things dairy (Jay, as well as Grandpa T). The bambino likes having cheese as a snack, or even a side dish (especially where shredded cheese of any kind is concerned). So when I got the chance to review this:

Thanks to the folks at Uncommon Goods, I jumped on it. They’ve got TONS of cool, unusual and unique gift ideas (like these), and I have many other items on my list I’d like (hint hint!), and they were super-nice when arranging the review. But now, on to the cheese.

I thought this would be a fun thing to try with the bambino, so he can learn more about where his food comes from, as well as how some things are made. In the vein of “It’s a small world after all,” my cousin’s wife has used this kit in the past, and gave me a couple pointers. For one (and the instruction booklet even suggests this as well), you need to use milk that is NOT UHT/UP (ultra-high temperature processing/ultra-pasteurized).

(If you’re at all familiar with Father Ted, and the episode where Dougal becomes a milkman for a day, that’d be Mr. Fox telling Dougal how “no one likes UHT milk because it’s shite.”)

I figured that Burbach’s Milk would be safe to use, and based on the recommendation from Susan as well as the instruction book, I went with whole milk.

I did have to go and buy a stainless steel stock pot especially for this purpose (got a pretty cheap one at Wal-Mart for about $6), but that was more because my Dutch oven and pasta pot both have non-stick surfaces, and if I were to make mozzarella, I would need to cut the curds with a knife, possibly damaging the non-stick surface. But other than that and the milk, everything else I needed was included in the kit.

I let the bambino decide which he wanted to make, mozzarella or ricotta, and he chose mozzarella. So, we got to work.

Cheese! I didn’t take pictures during the heating/stretching of the curds phase of the cheesemaking, because obviously, my hands were messy. The instruction book recommends you wear rubber gloves to do this, but the cheese wasn’t so hot it couldn’t be handled–Especially for stretching and pulling, it was easy enough to grab a hunk of it, pull it upwards, and let it fall back into the bowl. Once it was done cooling in its water bath, I got ready to slice it.

The verdict? Very good! Extremely creamy and I apparently stretched it enough that it’s not grainy. I personally think I’d’ve added about a teaspoon more salt to it, but I like salty cheese.

Jay was especially impressed by it, and loved the variety of Triscuits I bought to pair the mozzarella with. There’s about 3/4 of the ball left, and I’m trying to resist the urge to make a pizza with it.

I can’t wait to try making ricotta next! Thanks again to the folks at Uncommon Goods for giving me the chance to try my hand at making my own cheese. Go and check them out and get your kit, so you too can have your own fresh mozzarella in less than an hour!