Eating My Curds and Whey

Hello all. I’m Laurel, Maia’s sister, and I’ll be your guest blogger for the week.

I recently read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a description of her family’s journey through a year of eating only (or mostly) produce and meat grown on their own property in Virginia. Kingsolver had more than your average knowledge of how to feed yourself out of your backyard (like what asparagus looks like and how to slaughter a chicken). She also shows more than a passing familiarity with the lost arts of canning, baking bread, and making (gulp!) cheese.

I’m a regular reader of many food blogs, and have noticed that canning (even cakes!) and baking breads has come back into favor, while cheese-making is still… well… left to the professionals. I predict this will change with Kingsolver’s account of how to make fresh, soft cheeses. As soon as I read her description of stretching and kneading mozzarella, I ran to Ricki Carroll’s New England Cheesemaking Supply and purchased her Mozzarella and Ricotta Kit and Home Cheese Making book. It’s obscenely, embarrassingly easy to make these two cheeses (much easier than baking or canning, I’ll bet). All you need to them is a gallon of milk, a big pot, a big spoon (or ladle), some cheesecloth, a thermometer, citric acid and rennet. You can purchase them all through NECS, though I’m sure a little hunting in a gourmet store or two would give you all you need.


With a little heating, stirring, straining, and kneading, a gallon of milk is magically transformed into something entirely new.

Making all this cheese leaves you with a lot of whey, which has uses all its own. (I’ve heard that adding some tang or koolaid to whey makes a refreshing beverage, but that has a bit too much of an ‘ick’ factor for me.) It can be used in any recipe calling for yogurt or buttermilk.


I used it to make an formidable pizza dough.

Ricotta Cheese
Adapted from Ricki Carroll‘s Home Cheese Making

1 gallon whole milk (not ultra pasteurized)
1 tsp citric acid dissolved in 1/4 c cool water

Mix the milk and citric acid solution in a large, non reactive pot. Heat over medium heat, stirring often to prevent scalding. At 185-195 degrees F the milk will curdle, with the curds pulling away from the edges of the pot. The whey should be clear yellow, not milky. Turn off heat and let sit 10 minutes. Scoop the curds out with a ladle and drain in a colander lined with cheese cloth.

Mozzarella Cheese
Adapted from Ricki Carroll‘s Home Cheese Making

1 gallon whole milk (not ultra pasteurized)
1 1/2 tsp citric acid dissolved in 1 c cool water
1/4 tablet rennet, crushed, dissolved in 1/4 c cool, unchlorinated water

Heat milk in large, non reactive pot over medium heat to 55 degrees F. Add citric acid solution and heat to 95 degrees F, stirring often. Add rennet solution and stir gently but thoroughly, heating to 105 degrees F. Curds should have formed. Let sit, undisturbed, 5 minutes.

Scoop curds into microwave safe bowl and press out as much whey as possible. Microwave on high 1 minute. Drain off whey and knead the curds as you would bread (fold, press, turn), but be careful, they will be hot (rubber gloves may be a good idea). The curds should start to come together and become shiny and stretchy, like a firm dough. Microwave on high for 35 seconds twice more, kneading each time (when heated the cheese will become curd-like again. Don’t worry, they’ll come together). Form into a ball. Eat immediately, if possible. Otherwise cover with ice water to stop the cooking process and store covered in the refrigerator.

Whey Pizza Dough
Adapted from Ricki Carroll‘s Home Cheese Making

3 – 3 1/2 c all-purpose flour (I swapped in 1/2 c whole wheat flour)
1 tsp salt
1 package instant yeast
1 c very warm whey
2 tbs olive oil

Mix 2 cups of the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Add the whey and olive oil and mix. Add in enough of the remaining flour to bring form a soft dough. Knead 4-6 minutes. Form into a ball and let rest 10 minutes in a floured or oiled bowl. Wrap in plastic and store in the fridge until use.



  1. Posted November 23, 2007 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

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  2. Posted March 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Permalink


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