This weekend I decided I would take on mozza-yella again; my yellow mozzarella made with gorgeous Calf at Foot Dairy full, rich, Jersey milk. The last two sessions hadn’t gone well, the first I’d used a different recipe and the second I tried and failed to make my own recipe and ended up with India Rubber Balls, King John would have been pleased with, even if they weren’t red.
I invested in 5 litres of milk, I was ready with my cheese log to record every step (and test out the cheese log for bugs), had allowed an extra hour over the recipe estimate because I now know the first heating of milk always takes much longer than I expect and was prepared to finish the task and make my way to work in good time.
The milk eventually reached the right temperature, there was my vinegar (I decided not to risk lemon, not knowing how acidic would be as I still haven’t had delivery of my pH sticks), ready for action and my dish of cooled, boiled water, to which I had added the rennet. I tipped the vinegar – too quick? It started to clot immediately, should have added it slower. I added the rennet and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited – you get the picture, nothing happened. There were two distinct ‘zones’ a clotty (not curdy) bit and a liquid gold bit, ie still unchanged whole milk.
Finally after two hours the penny dropped. Earlier in the morning the cupboard above my diluted rennet had been opened and bits of black pepper had dropped in. I’d thrown away the water/rennet mix and put in more boiled water to cool. CLOT! I had never added the rennet to the second batch. The only rennet in the mix was a distant memory of rennet having once been in the dish like some odd form of homeopathy. At this point panic set in. I had to get to work. I brought the milk to the boil added a good dose of vinegar, a wonderfully satisfying lumpy clot formed immediately, I left it to press and ‘ta dah’ I have paneer – warn Luke at the Framlingham veg shop, I will need copious quantities of spinach as sag paneer will feature heavily in this week’s menu!