Cheese Recipe: Easy Mozzarella

mozzarella

A few years ago when my husband realized I was intent on making cheese with goat, sheep, and cow milk, he asked if I was going to get buffalo someday because their milk is used for real mozzarella. It is an intriguing idea, but I think I’ll stick with my smaller dairy animals. A mesophilic culture is used to produce really flavorful mozzarella. It takes a few hours to make, but we have been so spoiled by this quick recipe that we have not made the more authentic recipe in years. We use goat milk to make it, which is more flavorful than cow milk. When made with whole Jersey milk, this cheese tastes buttery, which is delicious, but not exactly mozzarella flavor.

This is a very forgiving recipe. We have made just about every mistake imaginable over the past few years of making it at least weekly, and it always turns into mozzarella in the end. One thing that will not work, however, is using ultra-pasteurized milk. Unfortunately, most organic milk in the store is ultra-pasteurized, so make sure you read the labels. Of course, you can always buy your milk from a local farm if you do not have your own dairy source. Using an induction cooktop on any heat setting other than low can completely ruin your cheese because the pot can get hot on the bottom so quickly that it can damage the milk the same way that ultra-pasteurization does. A gallon of milk makes enough to cover one or two pizzas, depending upon how cheesy you like it and depending upon the richness of the milk.

Makes 1–2 pounds

  • 1 gallon milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon citric acid diluted in 1/4 cup water
  • 20 drops liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup water (10 drops of double-strength)

At any temperature between 55°F and 80°F, add the diluted citric acid to the milk and stir. Over low heat, increase the temperature to 90°F. Without turning off the heat, add the rennet while continuing to stir. The milk will start to thicken, and suddenly there will be curds, which will start to separate from the whey. (This part is similar to making queso blanco.)

At this point, my husband and I do things differently. Remember, I told you this is a very forgiving cheese. My husband continues to stir, which he insists reduces his kneading and stretching time. I, on the other hand, use a large slotted spoon to press the curds together against the side of the pan while continuing to increase the temperature to 100°F.

Whichever way you decide to do it, you will use a slotted spoon to take the curds out of the whey at 100°F and put them into a microwave-safe bowl. Put the bowl of curds into the microwave for 1 minute and microwave on high.

stretching mozzarella

Remove the curds from the microwave and knead like bread dough. Mike uses a big spoon and folds it over on itself again and again; I put on a pair of heavy-duty plastic kitchen gloves and knead it by hand like bread dough. (I have a special pair of gloves designated for handling food.) It is really not a good idea to do this by hand without gloves because the temperature of the curds will be 135°F–140°F at this point, which is hot enough to cause serious burns. Kneading will cause whey to squirt and dribble from the curds, so it is a good idea to do it over a sink. Once you can stretch the curd at least 12 inches, it is mozzarella. My husband can usually accomplish this without any additional heating. I usually need to heat the curds a second time for 25 seconds. Sometimes, if I’m having a bad cheese day, I have to heat it a third time before I can get it to stretch.

After you get it to stretch, shape the cheese into a ball and flatten it, then immerse it in a bowl of ice water to cool quickly. After about an hour of cooling, the mozzarella is ready to go in the refrigerator. It freezes nicely. In fact, when we are drowning in milk during the summer months, we make extra mozzarella to freeze for using through the winter when we won’t have enough milk for cheese making.

This is an excerpt from Homegrown & Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living.

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21 thoughts on “Cheese Recipe: Easy Mozzarella”

    • Sorry I never saw this question until now! You can leave the curds in the pot and continue heating the curds until they’re 130-140 degrees, then scoop out the curds and put them in a bowl. Drain off as much whey as you can and start stretching.

      Reply
    • We have not noticed a difference, but 100% of our mozzarella winds up being shredded and put on pizza or lasagna and melted. If you like to eat mozz plain, I’m not sure if you’d notice a difference in texture after freezing. I think you might.

      Reply
      • my curds, and when I start kneading them, and not coming together smooth. they are kind of lumpy and wont stretch. want could I be doing wrong?

        Reply
      • We freeze ours so we have extra when our cow is dried off and it tastes the same as before freezing as long as you don’t keep it froze more than 6 months.

        Reply
    • I always forget to mention that because we don’t add it. Since we’re using it in pizza, there is plenty of salt in the sauce, which we also make from our own homegrown tomatoes. However, if you want to add salt, you can add it while kneading or when you first put the curds into a bowl. You just don’t want to add it any earlier than that because most of it will wind up in the whey.

      Reply
  1. I use tablets of rennet. What would be the conversion? Most of my recipes call for 1/4 tablet of rennet for 1-2 gallons of milk. Would this be the same for this recipe? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Usually the package of rennet will tell you what the conversion is from liquid to using tablets. However, if most of your recipes for a gallon of milk call for 1/4 tablet, that’s probably close to what you’d use for this.

      Reply
    • They’re just the regular cleaning gloves that you buy at the grocery store. I make sure to get a color that is NOT the same as what we use for cleaning, and I store them with my cheese making equipment so they don’t get mixed up.

      Reply
    • I’ve never had to do that. I’m thinking that your microwave isn’t hot enough, so I’d increase the length of time that you heat it by 15 or 30 seconds. So, if you were heating for 1 minutes, do 1 minute and 30 seconds. We have had to do that with a very old and wimpy microwave. When I teach classes in places that have very hot microwaves, I usually only have to heat it one time to get an excellent stretch.

      Reply
  2. I am able to make a lovely mozzarella with your recipe but it is only 8-10oz. What do you think I am doing wrong? I am using Nubian and Oberhasli milk.
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Are you using 1/2 tablespoon or 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid? That’s a pretty common mistake. Some measuring spoon sets don’t have 1/2 tablespoon, so you would have to do 1 teaspoon and then 1/2 teaspoon.

      Reply
        • Are you using an induction cooktop?

          What type of rennet are you using? How old is it? Did you buy it from a reliable source that sells lots of cheesemaking products? (Many years ago I was buying yogurt culture from an Amish grocery store, and they were leaving it on the shelf, and it should have been refrigerated!)

          Reply
          • Hm I am just using an electric stovetop. I am using the double strength rennet from New England cheesemaking supply. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong!
            Also, can the recipe be doubled? That would save me a lot of time!

          • Is the citric acid also from New England Cheesemaking or is it something like Fruit Fresh that is not 100% pure citric acid? How old is the rennet? (Should be less than 2 years old.) Has it been left at room temperature or frozen? (It should be kept in the refrigerator.) Are you diluting rennet in hot water? Are you diluting the rennet in chlorinated water? Hot water and chlorinated water can deactivate rennet. When making a small amount of cheese, you don’t actually have to dilute the rennet. Diluting rennet is a holdover from commercial cheesemaking when you have a vat the size of a bathtub. You don’t want to put undiluted rennet in there because it would start to coagulate unevenly because you couldn’t get it mixed in fast enough. But when you are using a gallon of milk, that’s really not a problem.

            I have never doubled the recipe because it makes a pound of cheese for us, which is perfect for two pizzas, so I am not sure what kind of adjustments might need to be made. But I would not recommend trying to double it until you have a pound perfected.

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