As a gardener, summer is my favorite time of year. My garden is thriving and rewarding me for all the hard work and love that I have put into it. It’s bursting with life and color, and is full of fresh fruit and vegetables.
One of the things I like most is trying to make complete meals with everything from my garden and my DIY hobbies combined together. In today’s blog I am going to talk about making fresh mozzarella cheese to add to a Caprese salad with fresh garden tomatoes and basil.
Making mozzarella cheese is easy and simple. When I make mozzarella cheese I use the Ricki’s Cheese Making Kit for Mozzarella & Ricotta. This kit, along with a gallon of whole milk, is everything you need to make several batches of delicious, homemade mozzarella cheese.
Start by adding 1½ tsp. of citric acid to your cold milk, and heat it slowly to 90F. When it reaches 90 degrees, remove from heat. In a small bowl, add ¼ of a rennet tablet to ¼ cup of cool water, and stir until the rennet is dissolved. Once dissolved, add the rennet-water mixture to the milk, stir, and then cover with a cloth for 5 minutes. Now you can take the cloth off of the pot and check for a custard like substance called curd. If it feels too soft just cover it back up for a couple more minutes.
Once the mixture is firm, you can cut it into cubes that are 1½ inches in size. Strain the curd from the whey using a cheesecloth to catch the solids while allowing the liquid to strain through. Once you have strained all the whey from the curd, place the curds in the microwave for 60 seconds to help pull the remaining whey out.
You will next want to quickly knead the curd like bread. Once you work the curd it will start to stretch; continue to stretch this out as much as you can, as this is what will start to form mozzarella. Lastly, roll it into a nice ball and place it in the fridge. Your mozzarella is now ready to make your Caprese salad.
I like to pick my tomatoes and basil right from the plant when they are perfectly ripe, but any good tomato and basil will work. Slice the tomatoes to a medium thickness and place the slices on a large plate. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on each slice, then take your fresh mozzarella and cut it thick and put it on top of the tomatoes. I think it’s best with a fresh basil leaf on top of the mozzarella. Season with salt and fresh cracked peppercorn to your taste. Then take a couple more basil leaves, shred them thinly and sprinkle generously over the whole plate. Lastly, drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over each piece. Your fresh DIY Caprese salad is ready to be enjoyed!