Sunday, July 31, 2011

making mozzarella

I've stumbled upon a new obsession in my never-ending desire to make things, and its name is mozzarella. It is so surprisingly fast and easy to make, and just as enjoyable to consume.

The timing of my new-found obsession couldn't be better, as the garden seems right on schedule, offering up perfect pairings for the cheese.

Mozzarella Cheese

1 gallon whole milk
(we use raw milk, but if you are using store bought, look for milk that has not been ultrapasteurized as this will not be easily coaxed into cheese)
12 Tbsp. white vinegar
1/4 tsp. rennet (half if using double strength), mixed in equal parts cool water
1/4 cup plus 1 tsp. sea salt, divided

  1. Pour vinegar into a stainless steel pot. (I use vinegar in place of citric acid, which I don't have. If you do have citric acid, use 1 1/2 tsp. dissolved in 1 cup of cool water). Add the milk, stirring well to mix.

  2. Heat milk to 90 degrees over medium-low heat, stirring gently.

  3. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the rennet solution, stirring well for about 30 seconds. Let the pot rest for five minutes. The curd will look like custard, with the light yellow whey clearly separating from the curd. If the curd is still soft or the whey is milky white, let stand a bit longer.

  4. Cut the curd into a grid using a knife that reaches to the bottom of your pot.

  5. Return the pot to the stove and heat to 110 degrees, slowly moving the curds around with your spoon.

  6. Using a ladle or slotted spoon, remove the curd from the pot and set aside, draining off any remaining whey. Turn up the heat on the stove, warming the whey to 175 degrees. Add 1/4 cup of salt to the whey.

  7. Shape the curd into one or more balls and use a ladle to dip the curd into the hot whey for several seconds. Remove and knead the curd with spoons or with your hands between each dip.

  8. After the second dip, knead the remaining salt into the curd. Feel free to take a pinch to taste for the right level of salt. Return the curd to the hot whey, dipping and kneading until the curd is smooth and soft like taffy.

  9. Enjoy the cheese warm or cool it quickly in a bowl of ice water before storing in the fridge.

I've made this cheese four times in the past few days (it's a great way to use all the milk I bring home from the farm). Each time it has turned out with a perfect texture and firmness throughout. One gallon of milk yields about 3/4 - 1 lb. of cheese. You can also cut the recipe in half with equal success.

And it is oh-so-good with garden fresh basil and tomatoes, drizzled with a balsamic vinegar reduction (to make the reduction, simply heat 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar in a saucepan on low heat, stirring from time to time, until the vinegar clings to a metal spoon).

If only all obsessions could be so delicious!


Anonymous said...

Oh that looks delicious! Are you sure it's so simple?

Lori @ Laurel of Leaves said...

These are great step by step instructions. I'm inspired to make my own now! :)

Anonymous said...

What is rennet?

Amanda Greco Holmes said...

Yes, it really is very easy. I was surprised how fast the process is and how well it turns out.
Lori, you'll have to let me know how your cheese turns out when you make it!

Anon ~ rennet is an enzyme that can be derived from various sources (animal or vegetable) and serves to separate the curd from the whey when making cheese. Sometimes it can be found in local health food or gourmet stores, but since I couldn't find it locally, I ordered mine from

Kelly said...

Silly question, but how do you control the temp? Do you use a candy thermometer? I want to try this this weekend...

Amanda Greco Holmes said...

Hi Kelly
Yes, I do use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. Good luck with your cheese and let me know how it goes. Hope it turns out well!

Kelly said...

I just made this tonight and it was awesome. I used Oberweis milk because I don't have access to raw and I used the citric acid, though I will try it with vinegar next time. My three year old, who swears she hates cheese (but really doesn't!) ate about a quarter of the batch. My next project to tackle is yogurt!

Barbara said...

Hi my cheese never became tofu like
it did form small clumps I am now draining to see what I have what did I do wrong Help