Recipes Fresh, Home Made Mozzarella Cheese

Published on March 3rd, 2009 | by John Chappell

17

You Can Make Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

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Fresh, Home Made Mozzarella Cheese

You can make your own cheese, and it’ll be tasty, local, and organic.  Yes, right in the comfort of your own kitchen, probably with cooking equipment you already have. 

If you have an hour of time and an adventurous spirit, you can easily make your own mozzarella cheese.  After one failed attempt I made mozzarella cheese in about an hour, though with some practice, it could probably be done in half that time.  Mozzarella cheese is one of the easiest cheeses to make and since it can be used in a variety of dishes, sandwiches, pizzas, pasta, etc. it will disappear quickly.

The only two ingredients you’ll need for your cheese that you may not be able to find in your local supermarket are rennet and citric acid, both of which you can purchase cheaply online.  If you’re lucky enough to have an extensive local grocery store or cheesemaking shop in your town, you might be able to find them locally.

Besides rennet and citric acid, the only other ingredient that you’ll need is whole milk.  You’ll need to read the label carefully and make sure that the milk is NOT labeled “ultra pasteurized”.  Ultra pasteurized milk has been heated to a high temperature that kills the bacteria and cultures needed to make cheese.  Raw milk or pasteurized milk is OK, and I prefer to get milk from an organic local source.

  • Over medium low heat, bring one gallon of whole milk up to 55 degrees and add 1.5 tsp of citric acid (dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water), stir in thoroughly but gently.
  • When the mixture gets to 88 degrees add 1/4 tsp of liquid rennet (dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water), stir in gently for about 30 seconds.
  • Over medium heat, bring up to 105 degrees and keep it there for five minutes or until curds begin to form and separate from the side of the pot.  The whey should be almost clear, if milky white, allow to heat longer.
  • With a slotted spoon, scoop out the curds.  Don some rubber gloves and gently squeeze out as much whey as you can with your hands forming balls of cheese.
  • Place the cheese balls in the microwave (this is the faster method) for 30 seconds and then knead it, just like you would bread, squeezing out whey as you go.  Repeat this step several times, until the cheese has a slightly glossy sheen to it and can be pulled like taffy.  Add salt after the second kneading.

One of the best aspects of making mozzarella cheese is its simplicity, simplicity of ingredients and necessary equipment.  All you will need is a pot large enough to hold a gallon of milk, a slotted spoon, some clean rubber gloves, and a kitchen thermometer.  A candy thermometer is preferable to other types as you’ll want a large enough readout in the 100 to 110 degree range.  This is the sweet spot for cheese, where you’ll want to hold the temperature of your mixture (once the citric acid and rennet have been added) so the curds can set, so a thermometer that’s easy to read in this range is optimal.

Once you’ve tasted the cheese you can make in your own kitchen, you may be hooked.  I’ve added cheese making to my weekly kitchen tasks and enjoy watching the curds set, then massaging the curds into small mozzarella mounds.  Sure I still get my other, more complicated cheeses from my local grocer or farmers market, but soon enough I may experiment with another type of cheese with a higher degree of difficulty.  Once you’ve made your own cheese, you’re part of an ancient tradition of turning milk into cheese, and you’re part of a select group of people who’ve made homemade cheese.

Just in case you need some ideas for what to do with your delicious homemade mozzarella cheese, check out a recipe for Heirloom Tomato and Summer Squash Torte, or Fun and Easy Homemade Pizza. And though it may be far from organic, read about Kraft Foods Turning Cheese Waste Into Biogas.

Image credit: Shiva-Nataraja at Wikipedia under a Creative Commons License.


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About the Author

I'm 33, and a Southern Californian by birth and outlook, but recently relocated to the upper Midwest. You can label me an organic farmer trapped in an accountants brain and body, an enthusiastic yet novice urban homesteader, and a vocal supporter of all things organic, local, wholesome, and old-school.



17 Responses to You Can Make Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

  1. I love this idea, and will be more than happy to try it out.
    But what are the instructions for using the microwave? or instead of using a m’wave.
    Is it 30 seconds at HIGH in an 800, or what?
    And do you knead each ball separately, or do you put it all back together again for kneading?
    What is taffy?
    And roughly how much salt would you advise?

    I really would love to give this a try.
    Especially as I recently saw a suggestion how to make homemade butter that I’d also like to give a try.

    Then all I’ll need to do is try the recipe i already have for traditional oatcakes :)

  2. Grace says:

    Hello,

    I just tried this recipe but the mozzarella I got has a rather grainy texture and is more like feta or cottage cheese, though it tastes not bad. What's gone wrong? It can't be pulled at all and doesn't have any sheen. It did curdle well as it was supposed to… Has it got anything to do with the milk I used that I used skimmed milk rather than whole? Grateful if somebody can help. Thanks a bunch!

    Grace

  3. Jim Dodson says:

    Is there an alternative to rennet? Could you use vinegar or another substitute that can be made at home?

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  5. CheeseMan says:

    * I had no idea until now that rennet was curdled milk from the stomach of an unweaned calf. *

    It's not. Rennet is a complex enzyme. In it's most common form, it is extracted from the lining of the fourth stomach of rumens, such as cows, sheep, or goats. It was traditionally made by cutting the lining into small pieces, or ground, and put into a water bath with some lemon juice or vinegar to extract the enzymes. Then, the liquid is filtered, and used in the cheesemaking process.

  6. Pingback: How to Make Homemade Cheese : Eat. Drink. Better.

  7. baron chandler says:

    Hey, Jennifer. You must not use ultra-pasteurized milk … it destroys the protein and the best you get is a grainy ricotta-like slush. You can use either homogenized or non-homogenized milk, but if you use non-homogenized milk you must top stir the milk for a minute or 2 after adding the rennet (use a slotted spoon to gently stir about the top 1/2" of the milk surface). Note that if a recipe calls for cream, such as in neufchatel or some creme cheeses, it is usually fine to use the ultra-pasteurized creme or half-and-half.

    Here in Atlanta, you can buy veggie rennet at the Rainbow Grocery. I've used it just fine on both soft and harder cheeses. I'm told animal rennet is slightly more effective, but I've had no trouble with the veggie rennet getting things to come together.

  8. John Chappell says:

    Ryleigh.

    Absolutely. At the point where you've got the curds separated from the whey, simply retain the whey in the pot and keep it heated to around 150. Place the cheese ball in a slotted spoon and dip it in the heated whey for 30-60 seconds (long enough for it to be heated through), remove, knead the cheese, repeat.

    Hope that helps….

    John

  9. Ryleigh says:

    Is there a way to make it without using the microwave? Is it way harder or just longer? I would like to give it a shot if you know how to do it.

  10. Pingback: Wheatless Wednesday: Chalk it up to Cheese Alchemy — Garden-Fresh Pizza without Dairy or Soy Cheese : Eat. Drink. Better.

  11. Gavin Hudson says:

    I had no idea until now that rennet was curdled milk from the stomach of an unweaned calf. (I grabbed a dictionary when reading the recipe.) Kind of gross. Kind of interesting. Still and all, a recipe well worth a shot. Thanks.

  12. John Chappell says:

    Jennifer,

    Is the milk ultra-pasteurized? That would prevent the curds from coming together, you need to make sure you have pasteurized or raw milk only.

    I typically hold the curds at 105 to 110 degrees for about 10 minutes before the curds fully form. It may take a bit longer than that though.

    That's all I can think of for now, good luck.

  13. Jennifer says:

    I have tried this 4 times using the ingredients fromhttp://www.cheesemaking.com. The curds will not come together! Do you havce any suggestions?

  14. John Chappell says:

    Jenn – They have vegetarian rennet available online. I get my citric acid and rennet from New England Cheesemaking Supply -http://www.cheesemaking.com/ and I know they have veggie rennet available.

    I haven't used the vegetarian version myself so I can't vouch for its performance, but it's worth a shot.

  15. Jenn says:

    Do you know of an easy vegetarian rennet substitute?

  16. Leslie Berliant says:

    Nice, I just made ricotta cheese for the first time this weekend.

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