Making Mozzarella at Home
Now that I have gallons and gallons of free milk…what to do with it…oh I know! Make homemade mozzarella cheese! It is fairly easy and is done in about 30 minutes. I am in no way an expert at it, just decided to give it a whirl one day and it turned out delicious!
No fancy equipment is required. You will need:
- Cooking thermometer
- Stainless steel pot that can fit in a gallon of milk with a little room to spare
- Slotted stainless steel spoon
- Microwave safe bowl
- Rubber gloves
- Wooden spoon
- Timer(the one on the microwave will do)
- 1 Gallon of pasteurized whole or 2% milk
- 1 1/2 tsp of citric acid
- 1/4 tsp liquid animal rennet(there are also tabs, but I have experimented with both and this works best. The vegetable rennet takes a lot longer to work, so I don’t recommend it for this.)
- 1-2 tsp of salt(canning salt works great because it distributes faster, but I’ve also used table salt and it works just fine too.)
Start off by dissolving the 1/4 tsp liquid animal rennet in 1/4 cup of cold water. Make sure the water is chlorine free, bottled water works great for this. I bought my rennet for about $7 on Amazon. It has enough rennet to make 48 lbs of cheese according to the bottle and once you open it, you’ll need to keep it in the fridge.
Next, dissolve 1 1/2 tsp of citric acid into 1 cup of cold water(again, no chlorine). I bought my citric acid at Wal-mart. They have it in the canning area which is usually somewhere near kitchen gadgets. I’ve also seen it in the baking aisle. So if you can’t find it, hunt down an employee and ask. It’s gotta be somewhere!
Carefully pour the milk into a stainless steel pot and heat it over medium-low heat to 85F(I stir it occasionally to make sure I’m not scorching the bottom). When it has reached 85F, add the dissolved citric acid and slowly stir with a slotted spoon for 20 seconds. You will start to notice the milk getting chunky, which means it’s doing its job!
Keep heating until the milk reaches 100F, then add the dissolved rennet. Gently stir in an up and down motion for about 30 seconds.
Heat the milk to 105F and turn off the heat and cover the pot. I leave it on the burner because I want to disturb it as little as possible while the curds develop. Let it sit for 10 minutes. I know you want to peek in…but wait! It’ll be worth it!
The curds will have pulled away from the sides of the pot and look shiny. The whey will look yellowish around the outside of the curds. Check if the curds are ready by gently pressing the back of a spoon into the curds. If it leaves a little dent and shows you some resistance, they are ready. If not, cover them back up for about 2 more minutes and do not disturb.
Now it’s time to drain the whey from the curds. I cut the curds in a checkerboard pattern just because it makes scooping them out a bit easier. Scoop the curds into a colander. Once all the curds are in the colander, I gently squeeze as much whey out as I can without pushing too much curd through the holes in the colander.
After I’ve squished out as much whey as I can, I transfer it to my microwave safe bowl(ok, it isn’t labeled as microwave safe, but it hasn’t melted yet!). Pop it in the microwave for 1 minute. When it comes out of the microwave, I’ve seen some people use gloves to fold the curds over to distribute the heat. I find it too hot to handle, so I use a wooden spoon. Continue to drain the whey.
Microwave for another 30 seconds, drain more whey and knead the curds again. You will start to feel them firming up. I continue to use my wooden spoon to fold them over on each other by turning the bowl about a quarter turn, folding, turn….you get the idea. Keep doing this until they start forming a ball that doesn’t look chunky. It will take a few minutes, so don’t think you are doing it wrong if it doesn’t immediately come together. You also may need to microwave it another 20 seconds if it starts getting too stiff from cooling down. And keep draining that whey!
Once it starts looking nice and smooth, sprinkle your salt on and work it in by kneading and folding. I keep doing the fold over method until I form a nice, smooth, shiny ball. If you want to try stretching and folding it, just pick it up and pull, then fold in half and repeat. If it tears, just pop it back in the microwave for 20 secs and try again. The reason I do the fold method is because even with thicker kitchen gloves on, it was just too hot for me to handle!
If you want to use the same rennet I used, here it is- Liquid Animal Rennet – 2 oz.