52 Homesteading Skills in One Year: Project #13: Making homemade mozzarella cheese
Exhilarating. That’s the best word I could come up with to describe how I felt holding my first homemade ball of lopsided cheese. It wasn’t perfect but it might as well have been. I was incredibly, immensely, positively proud of myself and my homemade mozzarella cheese.
Maybe it’s because I secretly thought this was going to be a disaster or that cheese making should be left to the professionals – not wannabe amateurs like myself with a very, VERY sketchy track record of success in the kitchen. But I did it. And you can too. And you should. Because this is exciting. Really! Just look at how excited Jack is…
It’s so exciting I’ve starting envisioning our barn full of dairy cows and wondering if we could turn our garage into a second kitchen/work area where I could craft my own raw artisan cheeses.
Okay, so maybe that’s not what you have in mind, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try making your own homemade mozzarella. Imagine. In 30 minutes you could be holding your own ball of delicious cheese. You could eat it raw, grate it over pizza or just have your friends over for wine and cheese and oh so casually mention you made the mozzarella yourself. I know you want to so let’s get started.
Homemade mozzarella cheese
Order the mozzarella and ricotta cheese making kit from Cultures For Health. I can’t recommend this enough. It contains almost everything you need as well as easy to follow directions and troubleshooting tips.
Follow the kit’s directions to make homemade mozzarella cheese.
What? You want more details? Okay, here are the ingredients and the stove top method I used following the directions from the kit for regular pasteurized milk.
1 tsp cheese salt (the kit says this is optional, but I added the salt)
3 L and 3 cups cow or goat milk
1 1/4 cup cool, chlorine-free water
1 1/2 tsp citric acid
1/4 rennet tablet
A large pot
Slotted spoon (not plastic)
Large bowl of refrigerated water and a large bowl of ice water
Dissolve 1/4 rennet tablet in 1/4 cup water. Wrap and store the remaining tablet in the freezer.
Mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of citric acid into 1 cup of water. Stir until the citric acid is dissolved. Pour mixture into your large pot.
Add milk to the pot. Stir vigorously with a slotted spoon while heating the milk to 90°F.
Take pot off the burner. Slowly stir in the rennet with an up-and-down motion of the slotted spoon for approximately 30 seconds.
Cover the pot and let sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. There should now be a clear separation between the curd (solid) and the whey (liquid). If not, let sit for a few more minutes.
Cut the curd with a knife that reaches to the bottom of the pot.
Put the pot back on the stove and slowly heat it to 110°F while stirring the curd with the slotted spoon.
Take the pot off the burner and stir slowly for 2 to 5 minutes. According to the kit’s directions, more stirring will make a firmer cheese.
Heat a pot of water to 185°F. Ladle the curds into a colander, folding them together toward the centre and draining off the whey as you go.
Dip the colander containing the curds into the hot water a few times, then use the slotted spoon to fold the curds back into the centre of the colander until the curds reach 160 to 170°F.
Remove the curds from the colander, add cheese salt and start stretching. It will be hot so you will probably want to use gloves. Unfortunately, I could only find one glove so yes, my other hand in the above picture is burning.
Continue to stretch the curd until it is soft and shiny. The more you work the cheese, the firmer it will be. If the curds do not stretch easily, return them to the pot and reheat them to 160 to 170°F. Try stretching them again.
Form the cheese into one large ball or you can get fancy and braid it, make small cheese strings or whatever your imagination can come up with.
Cool the cheese by submerging it in a bowl of refrigerated water for 15 minutes. The directions then say to put it in a bowl of ice water, but I forgot. It didn’t seem to matter though. However, it is important to cool the cheese to keep it from becoming grainy.
And ta da…in just 30 minutes you have your own homemade mozzarella! You may now crank up the tunes and perform a little celebratory cheese dance. It’s best fresh so don’t celebrate for too long before you eat it all up…I mean share with your family.
Note: Don’t throw away the leftover whey! You can use it to make ricotta cheese. Directions are also included in the Cultures for Health mozzarella and ricotta cheese making kit. I haven’t tried it yet, but it will be my next cheese project.