Mozzarella is the gateway cheese. I took a butter and cheese making class at the Milk Shanty and learned the amazing simplicity of homemade mozzarella. With fresh moz under my belt I am less intimated by other cheese recipes, and ready to make many more dairy delights. (Check out my homemade butter!)
- Digital laser thermometer: Cheese-making is a combination of science and art. The science is making sure the whey separates from the curds, and this requires knowing the temperature of the milk. I use this laser thermometer so I don't have to clean it. (Also works great for soap-making too, and I don't have to clean it between soap and milk)
- Stainless steel pot: Cheese-making is intentionally using live enzymes to break apart the cheese. We don't want any wild bacteria growing in this cheese, so stainless steel is the way to go!
- Strainer: We will need to strain the cheese from the whey.
- Long knife or spatula: We will need to cut the cheese all the way to the bottom of the pot, so it needs to be long enough for that.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid powder
- 1/4 teaspoon liquid Rennet (Animal or vegetable types available) in 1/4 cup water
- 1 gallon of Whole Milk! (I use Raw milk from Lawton's farm in Foxboro, MA)
- 1-2 tsp Salt (any salt will work)
Recipe for Amazing Mozzarella Cheese:
Dissolve the citric acid powder (link) in 1/4 cup of water in your stainless steel pot (link). Pour the milk into the citric acid solution and stir it to combine.
Put the pot over medium-low heat and heat it to 90 degrees (with your laser thermometer.) When the milk reaches 90 degrees, remove the pan from the burner and pour in the rennet mixed with water.
Stir the mixture with a gently for 30 seconds. Let it come to a rest and walk away for 5 minutes. After the five minutes, the mixture should be like very soft custard.
With your long knife or cake spatula cut the cheese in a grid pattern. No points of straight lines, we are just cutting up the curds to make them easier to stir.
Return the pot to medium heat and stir gently until the temperature of the liquid whey reaches 105 degrees. The whey (liquid) should start to be distinct from the curds (cheese).
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the curd to a colander set over a bowl. Drain as much as whey as you can from the cheese. Even gently squeeze the cheese to remove more whey. Congrats you have cheese! (But you aren't finished yet)
Stretch and Remove Excess Whey
At this point, there is two main ways to stretch the cheese to form the stringy mozzarella texture and remove the excess whey. You can use the microwave or your can use a pot of hot water on the stove. Basically you want to heat the cheese so it starts to melt and stretch it. You want to squeeze off as much whey as you can. When you have finished stretching, we will add salt and form into a nice ball.
Microwave Method (courtesy of Pioneer Woman)
- Then transfer the cheese to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave the curd on high for 1 minute.
- Remove the bowl from the microwave and pour off as much whey as you can.
- Press the curd together with your hands and again drain off the whey that comes out.
- Microwave it again on high for 35 seconds, the press the curd together again to drain the whey.
- Knead and stretch the curd a bit to drain more whey, then microwave it one last time for 35 seconds.
Hot Water on the Stove Method (my preferred method)
- Get a fresh pot of warm to hot water on the stove. Using a slotted spoon drop a ball of cheese into the very warm water. Let it rest for a few minutes, so the cheese starts to melt. Let the water be as hot as you can stand to handle the cheese
- Draw the cheese from the water and begin to stretch the cheese and fold it back over itself. If it starts to get hard to work with, put it back in the hot water to soften.
- Press the cheese together to drain out as much excess water as the cheese comes out of the pot.
- Repeat twice as desired to create that stringy mozzarella texture.
Salt the Cheese
As you cheese it stretched now, by either method, and you have removed as much of the whey as you can. Now is time to salt the cheese and form it into it's final shape. The secret is in the salt.
- Knead in the salt and roll it under itself until it forms a neat ball.
- Then set the ball into an ice water bath and let it rest in there until totally cool.
Mozzarella Storage Options:
- Store in brine: Make a salt-water brine to store your cheese in. This will prevent the cheese from drying out and add extra salt.
- Store in container: Leave your mozzarella in a sealed container with no other liquids. This will keep your cheese fresh, but it may harden or dry out slightly.
- Don't bother storing it, just eat it right away. I mean, this is always an option.
Final yields: 1 gallon of milk
- 3/4 gallon of whey
- 11-12 oz of mozzarella cheese
Have you ever tried to make your own cheese? Share your story in the comments below.