How to make Cheese Strings
Cheese Strings were a childhood favourite of mine and still remain one of my greatest guilty pleasures, but when it comes to feeding my own children, I’d rather know that their food has undergone as little manufacturing as possible.
I used to spend ages peeling away the edges of my Cheese String, tearing the cheese into tiny spaghetti-like strips, trying to make it last as long as possible.
But as an adult I’m a little more discerning over what I eat, and having already mastered Mozzarella for Artisan Cheese Kitchen, knew that making 100% natural Cheese Strings for my own children (okay and myself!) in the future was not only entirely possible, it was easy and fun. You are even in control over how much salt is added so making Cheese Strings for babies or toddlers at home makes perfect sense.
So when a good friend of mine brought her two year-old son Jack (pictures above) round to mine for tea one day, I instantly knew the perfect snack to give him. Needless to say Jack loved them.
Cheese Strings – or string cheese in America – are essentially strips of mozzarella folded multiple times to achieve a layered, stringy effect and shaped into a rope the width of a person’s index finger. The only difference between this Cheese Strings recipe and that for Mozzarella comes at the stretching and shaping stage.
2.27litres (4 pints) buffalo or cows milk
¼ teaspoon powdered thermophilic starter culture
¼ rennet tablet diluted in two tablespoons cool, non-chlorinated water
175g sea salt
pH meter/ strips
2 pairs Marigold gloves
Up to 16 hours: 6.5 hours to make and cook the curds, one hour to melt and stretch the curds, up to 8 hours to brine.
Wearing two pairs of rubber gloves, knead the curds in the hot whey until they form one large mass. Lift the curd out of the whey and gently stretch them into a long rope. If rope cools down and becomes brittle, then place itback into the whey until it becomes pliable again. Fold the rope over on itself and stretch some more.
Keep repeating the stretch, fold and dip process around six or seven times. Ensuring that the rope has a uniform thickness along its whole length, lift it out of the whey and onto a clean, sterile work surface.
Quickly cut the rope into 5-inch long pieces and place each one into a bowl of ice-cold water to firm up.
Prepare a light brine by dissolving the salt in 2 litres of the reserved whey, reduced to a temperature of 12°C. Place the cheese strings into the brine for between 20 minutes to 8 hours, depending on your required depth of flavour. The longer they are left to brine, the saltier the finished cheese will be. If you’re making cheese strings for babies or very young children and are wary of adding any salt, skip this step and simply store the cheese in cold water in the fridge.
After the brining period rinse the cheese strings with cold water and store in the refrigerator covered in water for up to a week.How to make Cheese Strings,