I recently discovered how easy it would be to make my own mozzarella. So about two weeks ago now the husband and I decided to go for it, we had been considering it for a while but eventually you just need to jump in. We ordered the vegetable rennet on Amazon and Amazon Prime had it to us in time for use on Saturday. We made roughly two pounds of cheese that first Saturday, for just a little over $5, seriously. Now depending on the cost of milk in your area a pound of fresh mozzarella can run you from $2.5 to $6 a pound, it just depends on what you are paying for milk. I found making our own fun and far more cost-effective than buying it. I will give you the recipe and let you be the judge for yourself.
This last Saturday, we celebrated our oldest daughter’s fourth birthday, and we had homemade pizza for dinner that night. Now I could have easily pulled out the frozen ball of cheese from the week before for use on the pizzas that night but a friend wanted to try his hand at it. So we let him make the cheese for the pizza that night. I gave him the directions I had, and the husband and I helped him, with our experience we gained from the time before. In under an hour, probably closer to half an hour, we had fresh mozzarella for pizza.
Making the mozzarella leaves you with lots of whey. Now the whey need not go to waste. It can be used in baked goods in place of water, in smoothies, or even in soups. If you come up with other suggestions I would love to hear them!
Fresh Mozzarella (adapted from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company)
1 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
1/8 teaspoon double strength liquid vegetable rennet ( or 1/4 tablet rennet, or 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet. Read the directions on your rennet to see which you have. We have the double strength so that is what my directions here are for.)
1 gallon whole milk (Almost any milk can be used in place of whole just be sure your milk is not ULTRA-pasteurized)
1 teaspoon table salt
A non-reactive pot that will hold at least 5 quarts
Thermometer that can accurately read temperatures as low as 85 degrees
8 inch knife or a spatula that is long enough to cut the curds (It does not need to be a sharp instrument just a long enough one.)
Large sieve (A slotted spoon or cheese cloth will do. I just prefer a sieve)
*Rubber gloves (This last item is not needed, although some people might like to use them. I do not use them myself. I just make sure my hands are throughly washed before handling the curds and I prepare myself for handling hot curds.)
- In a small bowl measure 1 cup of cool water. Gently stir in your citric acid, until dissolved.
- In a second small bowl measure 1/4 cup cool water. Gently stir in your rennet until dissolved.
- Add your milk and your citric acid solution to your large pot. Gently stir your milk and citric acid solution until they reach 90 degrees. (All temperatures are in Fahrenheit, for the record, for my friends from around the world.)
- Once the milk has reached 90 degrees add your water and rennet mixture, while stirring your pot continually until you have reached the count of 30. Then stop stirring, remove your pot from the heat, and cover your pot. Let the pot sit covered for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes you will need to uncover your pot, and check the consistency of the milk. The milk should have set and resemble silken tofu. If you can not tell by visual inspection gently touch the top. (If it has not set let your milk sit another 5 minutes.) Cut the curds into a grid pattern, ensure that you cut all the way through the curds with your knife reaching the bottom of the pan. I recommend about one inch size squares.
- Put your curds back on the burner. You will need to cook them until they reach 105 degrees, stirring the pot of curds all the while. You don’t want to break up the curds too much, so stir the curds along the grid pattern you cut previously. As you cook them more they will further separate from the yellow whey.
- Remove the curds and whey from the heat, and continue to stir them for another 5 minutes. (You will need to reserve roughly 1 1/12 cups of whey for storage of your cheese.)
- Using your sieve separate your curds from the whey. Put your curds in a microwave-safe bowl once separated.
- Put your bowl full of curds in the microwave for one minute. Using your sieve drain off the additional whey that is in the bowl. For the record, at this point the curds should resemble cottage cheese.
- After you have strained them, gently fold the curds over on themselves a couple of times. They should still be loose at this point. (You may also want to use the gloves, if you find the curds too hot to handle.)
- Check the temperature of the curds. You want the curds to be at 135 degrees. If they are not at 135 degrees microwave in 30 spurts checking temperature after every 30 seconds, until they have reached 135 degrees. (They will not be able to properly stretch until they reach 135 degrees.)
- Once the curds are up to temperature, you will need to stretch them. Sprinkle your salt over the curds and work it in with your fingers. Using both hands, fold and stretch your cheese . You will want to be careful to not over work your cheese. You will know it is done when it is firm and has a glossy sheen.
- At this point you can shape your cheese into one round ball or a couple smaller ones. If you shape it into several bite sized balls those are called: bocconcini.
- You can use it immediately. Store it in the fridge, in the whey, for up to a week. Or you can freeze it, being sure to completely submerge it in the whey, for up to six months. The whey you are using for storage of the cheese should also have one teaspoon of salt added. (Frozen will not have quite the same texture as fresh. So recipes where fresh is required such as caprese salad, don’t use the frozen. The frozen can be thawed out and used for lasagna or pizza wonderfully though.)
***Let me know how this recipe works for you! If you need any clarification I am here for you!***