Zombie Cheese

Draining the curds

Sometimes cooking with dried ingredients requires a little ingenuity, and other times it inspires!  I created what I’m calling Zombie Cheese out of the dregs left from making mozzarella.

After finishing a batch of mozz, I’m left with nearly a gallon of whey.  When making cheese from normal milk, the whey can be used for other recipes or discarded.  But when I’m working with powdered milk, the warm whey is a great way to rehydrate more milk powder without using more resources (water or power).  However, the whey will already have some of the rennet and citric acid in it, which means it’s going to keep curdling and creating cheese if I keep adding milk powder.  If I’m trying to make enough cheese for deep dish pizza, making a lot of cheese is the goal!

If you want to make Zombie Cheese the martian way:

After setting aside your mozzarella, add a few cups of milk powder into the pot of warm whey and stir quickly to dissolve.  The curds will start to form within moments and rise to the surface, so you want to make sure the powder is mixed in well.  Scoop curds out with a slotted spoon and set in a cheese-cloth lined strainer to drain.  I made two more small batches of cheese from the left over whey, and likely could make several more.

While I’m proud of the quick and efficient process, the texture of the Zombie Cheese was a bit rubbery and “squeaky” when you bit into it.  It wasn’t as stretchy as mozzarella nor as soft as ricotta.  After draining, it crumbled well, but didn’t melt much in the oven when baked.  I think the texture has a lot to do with using fat-free milk powder rather than the process of reusing the whey.  We have an overabundance of old skim milk powder in the habitat that no one wants to drink, so using it up in cheese sounded like a good idea.  I would have expected the lack of fat to reduce the cheese output or affect curdling, but it didn’t.  The problem seems to come from differences in water absorption between skim and full-fat milk powder.  The skim milk powder seems to retain less water and release whey more easily, causing the cheese to dry out.  Even the regular mozzarella got very rubbery and tough the longer it sat, which didn’t happen the first time I made that recipe.  When made with full-fat milk powder, the mozzarella dried a little on the surface if uncovered, but stayed tender in the middle, even after refrigerating a few hours.  I’ll likely try Zombie Cheese again in the future, but I’ll stick to the full-fat milk powder and add some cream powder next time.

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One thought on “Zombie Cheese”

  1. Your cheese pics and description remind me of feta cheese or a farmer’s cheese, which is like a dry cottage cheese. I can suggest incorporating your “zombie” cheese into a something like a crepe, blintz or manicotti – you will need to add some powdered egg which should add some fat and hydrate the cheese a bit. Also if you are really ambitious, try adding the cheese to a spinach pie (spanakopita) or a vegetable quiche. You may also want to try whipping the heck out of it to make a cream cheese for the bagels you now have to bake. In fact, you can add some of your yummy freeze-dried salmon to make a real Jewish smear. Bon appetite!

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