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String Cheese

1 12 teaspoons citric acid
14 tablet rennet
16 cups low-fat milk
1 12 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato, chopped finely (optional)


Stir the citric acid into 1/2 cup of water and set it aside. Dissolve the 1/4 tablet of rennet in 1/4 cup of water and set it aside. Pour the milk into the pot, and stir in the citric acid solution. Heat on medium to 90F. 5 At 90F, add the rennet solution and mix it in with 20 quick strokes to make sure it is incorporated evenly. Continue heating to 105F, then turn off the heat. Stay close and monitor the heat. The milk reaches temperature quickly and overheating can ruin the batch. Look for a separation between curds and whey, clumps, or a yogurt-like texture. Use the spoon to gently slice through any large clumps of curd so that the largest curds are just 1 to 2 inches. Slowly move the pieces around in the warm whey to help them shrink as they cook. When the texture of the curds has changed from that of soft yogurt to that of a scrambled egg, scoop the curds into the microwave-safe bowl. Pour any extra whey into the pot as you hold the curds with your hands or a spoon. Spread the curds across the bottom of the bowl for more even heating. Microwave the bowl of curds for 1 minute on high. Using the spoon or your hands, fold the curd mass over itself 5 times to distribute the heat evenly. Drain off any whey that was released. Microwave again for 30 seconds and drain the whey immediately. Sprinkle the salt, oregano, and sun-dried tomato bits (if using) on the curds, and fold 10 times to incorporate it all evenly. As you fold the curds, you will start to notice changes in texture: they will be less lumpy, will be coming together, and will feel a little springy. You may even see signs of melting. Microwave for another 30 seconds. There should be very little whey now. Continue to fold the curds. It will start out looking like cookie batter and transform into a texture more like bread dough. The curd could come together in as few as 5 folds or as many as 30, depending on how hot the curds are and how processed your milk is. When it comes together completely and looks smooth, take it between your hands and try to stretch it. When the curd stretches easily, pull it as long as you can without it breaking, then fold the curd over itself before stretching it again. Continue to stretch and fold until you have a long rope of cheese. Four to six stretches are sufficient, but you can keep going with it as long as its warm and stretchy. If the curd tears, its a good time to stop. If youd like to stretch it longer and thinner, heat it for another 30 seconds, and continue to stretch and fold. . When you are satisfied with the length and thickness of the cheese rope, cut the rope into pieces. Prepare the ice bath by filling a bowl about three-quarters full with cold water, then adding ice cubes to top it off. Drop the warm Pizza Filata pieces into the ice water for a minute or two so they retain their shape. Spoon the cheese pieces from the ice bath and place them onto a clean, lint-free towel or paper towel. Gently dry the cheese pieces with the towel, then refrigerate.

Source: www.food.com