Friday, April 4, 2014

Homegrown Collective March 2014 I Just Made Cheese!!

I know I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again.  I love Homegrown Collective!  Last month they sent me everything I needed to make lip balm, a sugar scrub and wood butter!  
This month they sent me everything to make cheese!  And sharpen my knives but DH has taken all that stuff over.

I'm still amazed.  I guess I never thought that a regular person like myself could MAKE cheese!  Yes, I like to cook and all that but this is completely different!  Well, maybe its like making candy.
I ended up using this recipe but next time I'll try another one that doesn't use the microwave.  I figured I'd start easy and work my way up to professional cheese-maker extraordinaire.

So, first I dissolved 1 1/4 tsp Citric Acid in 1/4 cup room temp water and 1/2 a rennet tablet also in 1/4 cup water.  All this came in my Homegrown Collective GREENBOX.
I made DH take me to the store so I could get a gallon of 2% pasteurized milk.  Apparently ULTRA- Pasteurized doesn't turn out so well.  It's probably best to use raw but they didn't have any at Safeway.
The gallon of milk came awfully close to completely filling my pot!  Using the thermometer Homegrown collective provided, I heated the milk on Medium Low until it reached 85 degrees.  Then I poured in the citric acid.
Stirring it in slowly, it started to curdle right away.  Everything I read said "stir slowly" or "don't stir very much" so I tried to keep from nagging my poor pot of curdling milk too much.

At 95 degrees, it was time to add the rennet.  You can see its very "clotty" and the goal is to let the bits bind together.  If you stir too much, it takes longer for that to happen.
I added the dissolved rennet and stirred.  Slowly.  Top to bottom to displace the hot milk from the bottom and so forth.  It was a pretty quick transition once the rennet was added.  It separated quickly to curds and whey.  So far so good since my whey was a nice clear yellowish color.  Apparently if its cloudy, you did something wrong.  I survived this far!  So close now!  Once it could hold my spoon and pulled away from the edges, I took it off the heat and set a timer for five minutes.
Glurp, glurp.
Time to scoop it out!  You can see from the photos the difference that five minutes made.  
I scooped out all the curds and drained the whey as much as possible.  It's very drippy and even if you think you drained it well before you put it in the bowl, it continues to give up whey.  I taste tested the curds and they were sweet!  Very sweet!  Surprisingly so!  No wonder we add salt later.
Speaking of whey...  Well, here's a vat of it.  All that whey protein people pay so much for?  Here it is. Yuck.  Im not sure what to do with it.  DH refused to drink it even though I told him it was cheaper than his workout supplements. :D
So after the curds were in the bowl, I microwaved it for 60 seconds, kneaded twice, put it back in for 30 seconds, added the Cheese Salt and kneaded twice again.  
This is the finished cheese glob.  This was probably the hardest part. 

Microwaving 30 seconds then kneading (HOT!!) and trying to figure out when I had reached optimal cheesy texture.  When I could finally stretch it, without it breaking (or me dropping it because it was so hot), I figured I was done.  I recommend a new pair of rubber kitchen gloves (which I didn't have) for this particular part.  It has to be very hot in order to stretch and for it to be formed.

I couldn't take any pictures of the forming of my mozzerella cheese balls because temperature is pretty important and I didn't have time to stop and balance my phone in one hand to take a picture of the other until I was finished.
Mozzerella!!  My first cheese!!  Awww!  
I watched a video on the Homegrown Collective website (I can't seem to find the link at this moment but it was the first one with the Canadian lady) which showed a really great way to form your cheese balls.  Form your off hand into an Okay symbol and push the cheese from underneath out through the top.  You've probably done this sort of thing with play-doh at some point in your life, I'm sure of it.  Anyway you just push and push and tuck the end bits underneath until you get a perfect ball!
Here's a picture of the butt.  This was actually my fourth ball and it probably had the best but of them all.  My first one came out with a tail...  
I put three of the balls into a bowl of cold water so they would keep their shape by cooling down quickly.
I put these on my new Himalayan Salt Block that I got in my Taste Trunk yesterday to add a little more flavor.  That closer big one was the first one I did and it did not go into the cold water bath.  You can see its sort of spreading and flattening out.
Warm, fresh, sliced mozzerella that I made MYSELF!!  I still can't believe it!  

Homegrown Collective is the best subscription box, I really can't say that enough.  This project is easy enough that you can do it with your kids or your friends.  It takes LESS THAN AN HOUR to make this cheese!  

The Cost: For this box of amazing crafts, it's $39.99 plus shipping.

What you get: Besides the best experience ever?! Everything you could possibly need to expand your horizons into DIY heaven. Last month I made lip balm! One of the most wonderful things is that they include enough of everything that you can do this two or three times. I have enough rennet to make three more batches of cheese. Last month I got enough beeswax to make lipbalms for a year! This is a great box! See my previous review of February's box here and here.

Homegrown Collective strives to deliver seasonally appropriate, professionally curated products that deliver satisfaction of living a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle to your doorstep each month. You will receive a wonderful DIY kit that will get you on the path to "going green".

What do you think? Do you want to try it? I don't know what next month has in store but I've been so happy with all the projects so far.


  1. Hopefully you still have the whey, you can use it to make ricotta. You can find a recipe here.

    1. I still have the whey, I couldn't bear to toss it out. I'm going to make that ricotta next!! Thank you so much for your comment and recipe link!