Monday, May 23, 2011

How to make Mozzarella: Practice, Practice, Practice

Yesterday was Sunday.  So we ate grilled cheese and tomato soup.  The cheese was homemade as was the bread.

I have now made cheese 6 times--three times with store bought milk, once with raw cow's milk, once with raw goats milk and this last time with powdered milk plus raw cow's cream.  On the 6th time it came out PERFECTLY.  So that must mean I am ready to explain the process.  But keep in mind I am an amateur.

I think of cheese making like an art.  You might have a little talent, but it's practice that separates the good from the great.  I plan on continuing to practice.  Perhaps one day my successes at cheese may outweigh my failures.

I have, however, learned a thing or two about milk.  First, you cannot make cheese with ultra-pasteurized milk.  The high temperatures used in ultra-pasteurization kill everything in the milk making curd formation impossible.  My previous failures may have more to do with the milk than anything else.  I had a hard time getting the curds to form with the store milk.  Although the milk I used was not ultra-pasteurized, it may have been heated too high anyway.

1.  Pour one gallon of milk into a pot as pictured above.  (If you use powdered milk plus cream, the total amount should equal one gallon.  I removed 1 1/3 cups milk and then added 1 1/3 cups of cream.)  Also prepare your rennet with 1/4 tablet in 1/4 c. non-chlorinated water.  Prepare the citric acid by dissolving 1 1/2 t. in 1 c. non-chlorinated water (use 2 t. if using powdered milk and cream).

2.  You will need a thermometer that can read between 80 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.  The candy thermometer I had wouldn't work.  In the picture you can see I rigged a paper clip to hold the thermometer I got with my cheese making kit.  I also recommend getting a good skimmer to stir.  You will need to stir things gently and one of these can really help out.

3.  Pour in the citric acid and gently distribute throughout the milk with the skimmer.

4.  Heat the milk to 90 degrees (88 degrees for raw milk).

5.  Remove from heat and stir in rennet.  Gently distribute throughout the milk with skimmer.

6.  Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.

7.  Check to see if the curds have formed.  The curds should be custard like and the whey a clear liquid.  You might need more time here.

8.  Cut the curds.  Here is a picture after I cut the curds and moved the around a bit.

9.  Heat the curds and whey back to 105 degrees.  Skip this step if using raw milk.

10.  Gently stir the curds for 2-5 minutes.  The longer you stir the harder your cheese will be.

11.  Use the skimmer to scoop your curds into a microwavable safe bowl.  This can be seen in the next picture.  Drain off the whey without pushing down too much.

12.  Microwave for 1 minute.  Put on rubber gloves.  These you will need so you can handle the hot cheese.  After 1 minute in the microwave, drain the whey and fold the cheese into one mass.  You can see this in the next picture.

13.  Add 1 tsp. cheese salt.  You can stretch the cheese if it's hot enough, if not 30 more seconds in the microwave should do it.  Drain whey and stretch until soft and shiny.  The longer you stretch the harder the cheese.  Shape the cheese into a log or balls or just a large mass.  Apparently you can braid the cheese, but I have not tried this.  (Really, braiding cheese?)

14.  Submerge in cool water for 5 minutes, then add
ice.  Cool for 10 more minutes.  You're done!

So all my cheeses (the ones that have worked) have been really soft.  But soft mozzarella is good.  I have some left over from the grilled cheese yesterday.  I am thinking of trying it in a casserole.  I wonder how that will turn out . . .


  1. WOW! that is all i have to say!
    Homemade Cheese?? you're incredible
    (sorry i missed ya last week, we took a walmart trip).

  2. Genius! Love the paper clip idea.

  3. Try it on...oh I don't know...anything?! That looks amazing. Hmmmm...let me think, pizza, pasta and red sauce, or some tomatoes and basil and a little olive oil. Nice work Kate!



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