Saturday, November 23, 2013

Making "Dry" Mozzarella in Pakistan

Imran Saleh
Imran Saleh is bringing a little bit of Italy to Lahore

We have posted 2 articles about Imran since we first met him (via e-mail) last winter - one in February and one in March.

At that time, Imran surprised us when he told us how popular pizza is in Pakistan. Imran himself has a commercial sized pizza oven in his kitchen which he built 10 years ago.  It can hold 6 large pizzas!

Imran's dream is to create a cheese culture in Pakistan and he seems to be realizing that dream.  He has trained 4 students to make cheese so far and he has a waiting list.  His cheeses are sold at his local supermarket and through his ad on the website OLX.

When we interviewed Imran for the previous articles, he was using buffalo milk for his Mozzarella.  Now he is getting raw Australian cow's milk from a nearby farm.  He told us that, in his opinion, the milk he is using now makes a better cheese.

This week, Imran's dry version of his Mozzarella will go on the market for the first time.  He describes it as a Provolone-style Mozzarella with little or no aging required.  He developed it because he felt that his Mozzarella had a tendency to burn in the pizza oven.  The dry version has a lower yield but a better shelf life.  He generously shared his new recipe with us:

Imran Saleh's Dry Mozzarella

After adding the thermophilic culture and allowing it to ripen for 60 minutes (at 90F), I add the required microbial rennet, dissolved in water.
I give it 40 minutes to make a firm gel before cutting and cooking.
While cooking the curds, I slowly raise the temperature up to 113F. 

I cook the curds 15 minutes more than usual - 40 minutes, with a fast spin for the last 2 minutes (this is to extract as much whey as possible).
The wire on the right is a digital thermometer.

The rest of the procedure is the same as Jim Wallace has explained in his Mozzarella Made With a Bacteria Culture.
After draining the curds, when 5.3 Ph is achieved, I put them in lined molds with a little weight to press for 3 to 4 hours. 

I then remove them from the molds and freeze them for the hot water bath later or just slice them and work them into Mozzarella right away.

The result is a dry Mozzarella.  I age it for a week prior to use.  It works amazingly on pizza, is very easy to grate, has much elasticity after baking and no burning issues.

Imran's eldest son, Junaid has learned the art of cheese making from his father.

This is Imran's current make room.  He is building a new one upstairs in his home.

Phone: #03334649134

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Elise Cohen, Story Teller and Cheese Maker

If you subscribe to our fabulous Moosletter, you know we are currently running an essay contest.*  We have "met" the most interesting people through this contest and Elise Cohen of Rockville, Maryland is one of them.

Elise wrote an essay which was twice as long as the limit of 500 words.  She knew we couldn't include it in the contest, but she thought we might want to read it.  We did and when you read it, you will know why we had to share it with you:

How Cheese Changed My Life
By Elise Cohen

If you're making cheese in the United States, you probably have an interest in folk and home arts.  If you've an interest in folk and home arts, you probably know some folk tales.  If you know some folk tales, you probably know some tall tales.  If you know some tall tales, you probably remember this one:

Jimmy Cheddar Fist was born that way, with a good hunk of aged cheddar in his hand.  His ma and all of in Farmhouse Falls knew he would be something special.

Well the winter Jimmy was ten years old, Farmhouse Falls was being outright terrorized by the meanest, hungriest, biggest grizzly bear anyone in town had ever seen.  The best hunters, men and womenfolk both, went out after him and came back empty-handed…or never came back.

After a few weeks of this, with his friends not allowed out to play for fear of them being eaten, and down to his last shirt and trousers what with the laundry being eaten right off the clothesline by that ornery bear, Jimmy figured it was time for him to step in and step up.

Jimmy headed towards the brush where the bear might be sniffing around for a last deer, and sure enough he found that grizzly in search of a snack.

Well, Jimmy just grabbed up that bear.  He whacked him over the head with a good hard wedge of Reggiano he happened to be carrying, and gave him such a bear-hug the grizzly knew he was licked.  He unzipped his very own bearskin and handed it over and lay right down and died.  Jimmy himself needed a snack, so he build a quick fire and roasted that bear, with just a bit of Reggiano shavings and some handy pine nuts.  He ate half of it himself, then brought the other half into town to share out.

Mighty thirsty, Jimmy broke the winter ice on the river and drank up the cool water below.  The fish were a problem, because after all that good bear meat the town folk only needed about half of what lay flopping about even though the fish deep-froze themselves right there.  The town was going to need more river water for crops, too.

Jimmy Cheddar Fist took one of the grizzly's shoulder blades as a shovel and carved a new river down the side of the icy mountains.  That gave the last fish a home and the town a better, closer river as well.

Now Jimmy figured he and Farmhouse Falls had done enough for each other.  He fetched the grizzly's rib bones, and mixed up some spit and some mud, and made himself a nice tight little boat.  The shoulder blade made a fine rudder, and with the new bearskin to wear, Jimmy stretched out his last linen shirt as a sail.  With that, off up the river went Jimmy.

Well, truth time.  You don't know that story, because I just made it up right on the spot.  Now, see, when I tell you about my own real life, mine won't seem half as implausible as it would have before, when you didn't have a good tall tale in your mind.

I'm a suburban American mom.  I live with a loving husband and six kids.  Among the kids we have diagnoses of medical, psychiatric, and developmental disabilities including (don't worry, there won't be a test, and even clinicians in one specialty have never heard of the other stuff) early onset rapid cycling bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, trichotillomania, agenesis corpus callosum, septo-optic dysplasia, eosinophilic gastroenteritis, and good old fashioned allergies, asthma, and heart burn.

I go out of my way to find tools I can use to ground myself, tools that let me just think and listen to myself.

Now I've discovered cheese making.  With a little knowledge, no common sense, and a desperate need to create in a constructive way, I can make those cheeses.  Wensleydale with cranberries, Cotswold with onions, brie, Valencay, feta, I've jumped right in to make cheeses I never new existed a few months ago.  And while I warm the milk, and gently stir the curds, and carefully ladle them into my molds, I can think to myself, I can listen to myself, I can create.  I can provide and amuse and delight.  I can feed both the whims and the stomachs of my family.  I can soothe myself knowing I'm making, doing, producing.

That's no tall tale.  That's a success story.

*Our Essay Contest
To enter, just tell us in 500 words or less how making cheese has changed your life.  The prize is a Cheese Press (E28)!  Send your essay with a picture of yourself (preferably doing something cheese-related) to  The deadline is December 1, 2013.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"Cooked" Cream Cheese with Patrice Lewis

Patrice Lewis
Patrice Lewis, calls her popular blog- Rural Revolution - In-your-face stuff from an opinionated rural north Idaho housewife.

She describes herself as "a practical constitutional conservative stay-at-home homeschooling cow-milking rural-living Christian mom."  She describes her life as "homesteading, homeschooling and home business-ing" (she and her husband make handmade hardwood drinking tankards).

Patrice writes columns in various publications (including Countryside Magazine) and she has even written a series of self-sufficiency preparedness e-books.

On her website, she shares all kinds of information about all kinds of subjects, including cheese making.  So far, she has posted excellent tutorials about making cheddar cheese, mozzarella and cream cheese (shown here).

For the post below, she used the recipe for cream cheese that's on page 85 of our book, Home Cheese Making.  This is a somewhat unusual recipe because there is a step where you heat hot water and add it to the curds until they reach 125F.  This causes the curds to end up being firmer and the cheese dryer than with some of the other methods.  (So, if you're making cheesecake, it's a good recipe to follow.)

Making Cream Cheese
By Patrice Lewis at Rural Revolution

Here's my final posting on making cheese, in this case cream cheese. Of the three cheese I know how to make (mozzarella, cheddar, and cream) this is, by far, the easiest.

Start with two quarts of light cream and heat to 86F.

Add 4 ounces of mesophilic starter (I freeze mine in cubes) and stir until the cubes melt.

Cream cheese requires rennet, but in a very, very diluted form. Take three DROPS of rennet and add to 1/3 cup cool water.

Add one teaspoon of the diluted rennet and mix thoroughly.

I poured the cream into a bowl and covered it with a lid to keep out anything that might be floating around (wisps of dog hair, dust, whatever). Now it has to ripen for twelve hours at 72F, which can be a challenge.

I tucked the bowl of cream into our gas oven, which has a pilot light and therefore stays warm. But if the door was closed, it was too warm, so I taped a little note to the oven door asking that it stay open. This kept the cream at a consistent 72F. If your day is warm, you might be able to just keep the cream on the kitchen counter for that time. If it's a hot day, perhaps you can find a cool spot (basement? washroom?) to keep it.

I finished this step a little after 6:30 in the morning. Then I just went about my day until evening.

After twelve hours, I poured the contents into the largest bowl I have. Believe me, use your largest bowl. The next step is to take a separate pot of water and heat it to 170F. Heat at least two quarts of water, probably three to be on the safe side.

Once the water has reached 170F, start adding it to your bowl of cheese. You'll need to add enough hot water to raise the temp of the cheese to 125F. This is why you'll need the largestbowl you have. By the time I was done and the temp was correct, this white bowl was full to the brim. It looks like nothing more than a watery mess at this stage, but don't worry.

Line a colander in the sink with a clean old pillowcase (I like the "thinner" fabric pillowcases because they drain better).

Pour the whole watery slop from the bowl into the pillowcase. Have someone hold up the edges if need be. Honestly, you'll think you're pouring the whole bowl down the sink because it drains so quickly, but don't worry. What remains in the pillowcase are the cheese solids which will need to drip dry.

Next you'll have to hang the pillowcase to drain for about twelve hours (overnight in my case). This is how I hook the pillowcase around my cabinet center. Obviously you'll have to come up with whatever method works in your kitchen.

A full pillowcase, just hung to drip overnight:

The next morning: finished dripping.

Yield is 8 ounces, half a pound.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Launching the Massachusetts Cheese Guild

Barbara Hanley, President of the Guild welcomed us warmly.
We're looking forward to getting to know her better.
The word "guild" comes from medieval times when craftsmen and merchants formed associations to maintain standards and to protect themselves in the marketplace.  There is an aspiration of political power with a guild (unlike a club), so they are usually state-wide (at least).

There are currently cheese guilds in California, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, New York, New Hampshire, Maine, and Minnesota.  A whole group of southern states have banded together to form the Southern Cheesemakers' Guild.  Vermont calls it's guild "The Vermont Cheese Council."

Normally you would not think of membership in a guild as being particularly "fun," but, of course, when it comes to cheese, it always is!  (That is, if your idea of fun is tasting and talking about artisan cheeses with like-minded people!)

Our state, Massachusetts, now has it's own cheese guild with a beautiful new website (click here).  Membership (at any level) helps to support artisan cheese makers.  So, if you're a cheese enthusiast, joining the guild is an opportunity to "vote" for your passion and to make a difference in it's future.

The MA Guild recently held a fabulous launch party at Verrill Farm in Concord.  Ricki (the Cheese Queen) and I attended:

Commissioner Greg Watson, of the MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources with his Chief of Staff, Dorrie Pizzella.  They're working hard to represent the interests of cheese makers in our state.

Ricki wasted no time telling Commissioner Watson what she thinks about the issues facing cheese makers.

Barbara spoke briefly about the importance of having the Guild.

Commissioner Watson expressed support for the Guild.

Barbara accepted a well deserved bouquet of flowers.

Ricki visited cheese makers she hadn't seen in years.

Sue Rubel of Nobscot Farm in Sudbury

Bob Stetson of Westfield Farm in Hubbardston

Dave Smith of Smith's Country Cheese in Winchendon

Leo Brooks of Shy Brothers Farm in Westport

Paul Lacinski of Sidehill Farm in Hawley

Pam and Ray Robinson of Robinson Farm in Hardwick

Tricia Smith of Ruggles Hill Creamery in Hardwick

Tricia's samples.

To join the Massachusetts Cheese Guild, click here.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Making a Horizontal Curd Cutter

Submitted by Jerry Pittman of Castle Rock, Washington

Cheese makers really are the most interesting people in the world!  They constantly come up with better ways of doing things and then share their ideas with other cheese makers.  We are truly amazed by this "generosity of spirit."

Jerry Pittman found a better way of cutting curds and he shared it with us.  He took pictures and wrote out the directions.  I asked him if he might also tell us a little bit about himself:

I am a retired medical technologist. I worked in hospital laboratories for over 40 years.  I live in Castle Rock, Washington with my wife, youngest son and our black Labrador, Barney.

I first started making cheese in the mid 90's using recipes and supplies from New England Cheese. Now that I am retired, I have time to start making cheese again. I came up with this horizontal curd knife as a way to make more uniform horizontal curd cuts.

This picture was taken before he added the plastic sleeve.
I use a cake spatula to cut the cheese curd and I have found that making the horizontal curd cuts reasonably uniform isn't that easy.  I wanted to find an easier way.  I came up with the idea using a copper tube as a horizontal cutting blade by attaching it to a wooden dowel.

My cutter is made out of items I picked up at the local hardware store: 1/8 x 12" copper tubing cut to the diameter of my cheese pot, 3/8" wooden dowel with 3/4" etch marks, small screw and star washer to secure the handle, small "O" rings to hold the tubing in the dowel.  I added a plastic sleeve around the dowel which gives you something to hold while turning the handle.

This was my prototype.  I would change the copper tubing to a stainless steel rod and change the etch marks to 1/2."  It would be nice to use a stiff nylon rod in place of the wood, but I couldn't find one to suit.


I use a cake spatula to make the vertical cuts in the curd.  I make my first vertical cut through the center of the pot, then make parallel cuts toward the edges.  This keeps the curd from moving around in the pot and gives me a central cut line for using the horizontal curd knife.

Here are the steps:

1. Hold the cutter by the handle, align the blade over the center vertical cut.

2. Hold the cutter by the grey sleeve and insert the blade down into the curd to the first mark.

3. With the other hand, turn the wood handle 180 degrees, this makes the first horizontal cut.

4. Insert the blade down to the second mark and turn the handle again. Continue in this manner until you reach the bottom of the pot.

5. Give the handle one final turn to make the last cut and remove cutter from pot. 

This device makes uniform horizontal cuts, which makes the curds more cubic in shape.  I found this much easier and quicker to use than either a cheese knife or ladle for making the horizontal curd cuts.

For printing:

1. Hold the device vertically by the wooden handle so that the pointed tip of the dowel is over the center of the curds and the copper cutter lines up with the central vertical cut.

2. Gently push the tip of the dowel down into the curd to the first etch mark above the copper tube.

3.  Next, with one hand hold the device just below the handle.  Hold it so that the dowel can rotate between your fingers when the handle is turned.

4. While holding on to the dowel, turn the handle 180 degrees using the other hand. This will make one complete horizontal cut through the curd.  The dowel and handle have an index mark on them to help keep track of  the position of the copper cutter. 

5.  Next, gently move the device down in the curd to the next etch mark and turn the handle another 180 degrees.  The second horizontal cut has been made.

5.  Continue in this manner until the wooden dowel reaches the bottom of the pot and turn the handle 180 degrees one last time to make the final cut.