November 2, 2011

Pioneer Skills to Teach Science

I school my boys in Alberta, Canada.  To qualify for homeschooling here, we must enroll in a school board and follow Alberta's Education Requirements.  Lucky for me, we have now taught Grade 5 Science twice!  :)  So, to enhance our chemical reactions unit (kitchen science), we made cheese. 

I firmly believe that although I have all boys, they need to know how to navigate a kitchen.  I also firmly believe that I need to teach them some of the quickly disappearing skills that all of our ancestors took for granted. 

It is so easy to just walk into a store and pick up some cheese, but making it is so much fun!

I thought I might do a small pictorial for you so maybe you could tailor this to YOUR science teachings.

Basic American Mozzarella

Collect your Equipment:

5 Quart (or bigger) Stainless Steel Pot with heavy bottom
Pyrex measuring cup

Sterile thin material (I used a pillowcase)
Receiving container

Wooden spoon


1 Rennet Tablet dissolved in 1/4 Cup cool water

1 1/4 tsp Citric Acid dissolved in 1/2 Cup cool water

1 Gallon (4 Liters) Milk  (I made mine from milk powder.  I find this actually works better than store bought cows milk.  I know people who have their own cow though and their cheese is amazing, so if you have a cow...use that!)

Warm milk over gentle heat to 88F (31C).

Add your citric acid that has been dissolved in water.  Stir well.
Add your rennet tablet that has been dissolved in water.  Stir well.

Let sit undisturbed for 1-2 hours (I let mine sit for 2 hours...makes more curds).  Your milk will look like this when you are done:

Cut your curds into 1/2 inch curds (if you used cow milk, if you used powder they are not very solid)

Warm curds and whey (the yellow part) over low heat, stirring gently to warm evenly and keep the curds separated until heat reaches 108F (42C).

Hold at 108F for 35 min.  Stir every 5 min or so to keep curds off bottom.

Collect your curds by pouring them into your cloth. (my big bowl has the strainer inside with the cloth lining it.)

Gather ends of your material and let drain for a few min.

Gently press more of the whey out with your hands.  (you don't want it to come through though)

See the yellow stuff in the bowl below? 
That is the to make ricotta later if you wish...if not, just throw away.

Your curds will be nice and solid in your cloth.  Remove to a glass microwave safe bowl.

Add 1 tsp of salt to your curds.  Mix well.

Microwave your curds for 30 seconds on high.  Press with spoon (or your hands if you are an adult) to get more of the whey out.  Mix to distribute your heat evenly.

Microwave for 20 seconds more.  Mix your curds.  If they are sticking and nice and pliable, they are done.  (if not microwave for 20 more seconds.  If you are using powdered milk I find it needs all 3 times, cow milk seems to only need 2 of them)

Kneed your mozza on the counter until nice and smooth and forms an elastic ball.

Store in your refrigerator in salted water.


You can teach some pretty fun lessons in your kitchen! 

Jaime is in her third year of homeschooling her 3 boys. She loves crafting, photography, reading, cooking, camping, outdoor stuff, taking care of her family, homeschooling, learning new things, and many others. You can find a mish mash of all of that on her family blog at Welcome to the Madness.

8 comments - Add a comment below -:

Holly said...

That looks very interesting! I may not be homeschooling yet but I love ideas like this. I make all our yogurt but haven't done cheese before.

Dana ♥ said...

Wow! Jaime! That is amazing! We are going to have to do this!

I've never heard of Rennet Tablets though. I'll have to see if those are available here.

The Osborne's said...

Wow, that's awesome! Thanks for sharing!

JRoberts said...

You are all very welcome. I hope it works well for you. :)

Dana, you can get rennet tablest at health food stores. Call around. It is not as common as I thought so sometimes it is tricky to find. I have seen it all over the net as well. (with you living in the US, it will be easier and cheaper to find internet wise than I can) Good luck.

Abby said...

I can't wait to try this, and I hope you teach us about the ricotta too. :)

If you bake your bread you can replace the water with the whey as well, so it doesn't go to waste.

Jana said...

Maybe I missed something, but I need more directions on the "store in salted water" part? Do you mean like a bowl full of salty water? Does it have to cover the whole thing? How much salt?

JRoberts said...

Abby, I think I will be posting the ricotta recipe on my personal blog later (when I have a second to breath!). Just for you! :)

Jana, the store in salted water part is just salty water. I would just fill a baggy half full with water, (or small sealable container) and add about 2 tsp or so salt. It should cover it, that is to keep it from getting hard and dried out. Ours never lasts any time at all so I always skip this step! :)

Diane said...

Cool! I think I will try this. Thanks for the detailed step by step!