The coolest home science experiment ever — no, really EVER — is the home cheesemaking kit. I am just dumbstruck at how nifty this is: A gallon of warm milk, citric acid, a rennet tablet (OU hecshered vegetarian rennet, actually) and poof! Cheese. Stringy gooey mozzarella. Or milky, creamy ricotta.
And it’s so ludicrously easy: perfect for kids since nothing gets warmer than tepid bathwater. They get to stretch and pull the mozzarella to make bocconcini or string cheese. It’s so much fun to play with your food. Milk magic in your kitchen.
Once upon a time, cheese was a way of storing milk, and though cognitively we know they’re both dairy products, we’ve completely lost the connection between the two. It’s stunning to realize that something you’ve been buying your whole life is something you can make in your own kitchen out of milk. We have gotten so far away from processing our own food that I had no idea how much milk goes into how much cheese. (not a lot – one gallon makes about 8 oz of mozzarella) Scales fell from my eyes.
There’s a hard cheese kit as well. It won’t have the instant gratification of soft cheese which takes only half an hour, but homemade cheddar is next on my list (aged 8 to 24 months). And I’m now committed to buying CSA milk. For my early cheeses, I used the fanciest organic milk I could find and the flavor was a little ordinary. I like the idea of mixing in herbs and sundried tomatoes as well. Oh, the possibilities.
Gush, gush, gush. Coolest. Toy. Ever.