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You may be wondering where the cheese part comes in to Trees, Bees and Cheese. One of our plans is to eventually run dairy sheep and have a small-scale artisanal cheese business, to complement the other income streams on a diverse farm. But in the meantime, we are busy honing and expanding our cheese-making skills.

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Our first camembert, ready to eat.

After learning how to make haloumi, ricotta, and goat curd from Lulu of Culinary Art Productions, and teaching ourselves a modern camembert from Cheeselinks‘ book Home Cheesemaking, the next cheesemaking frontier has been good old child-friendly mozzarella.

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Shaping baby mozzarella balls

The mozzarella process is similar to our method for haloumi, except it requires a starter culture, and rather than press the cheese, you let the curds knit together through temperature, turning occasionally. There is also the fun stretching part that makes mozzarella what it is! By standing strips of curd in water at 70 degrees C, it becomes warm and malleable and able to be stretched in many different ways.

IMG_3485While stretching is fun, we weren’t quite sure how much stretching to do, and then how to get good ball shapes afterwards as it firmed up so quickly. We made baby mozzarella balls, then left them in a brine for 4 hours until they were ready to cut and sprinkle on ‘insert-Italian-food-here’.

IMG_3521The next adventure is to figure out how to make ‘quesillo’, which is a Mexican mozzarella-style cheese essential to Oaxacan cooking. Through the stretching process they get long strips of cheese which are then rolled into large balls and sliced up. We still haven’t found any English (or Spanish-language) recipes, but they must be out there somewhere!

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One batch of curd destined for mozzarella didn’t coagulate properly, so was drained in cheesecloth overnight to make a simple cheese which was unexpectedly reminiscent of Middle Earth!

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