Mozzarella that is!
Hey everyone! Been a while, huh? How have you all been? Well, I hope.
So, I’m going to tell you about an experiment of mine. I made some mozzarella cheese. It is fun, easy, and quick. Like ridiculously quick. It is going to take longer to type up this blog post that it took to make cheese. I got the recipe online from a food blog. Most of the recipes that I found were very similar; equally easy and simple. Find one you like,either online or in an old cookbook, or wherever.
Now, about ingredients and equipment:
- An instant-read food thermometer
- Any kind will do. I used a meat and vegetable thermometer. As long as it is calibrated, it will do. To calibrate, stick the end in a glass of ice water. Most instant-read thermometers have a nut or wheel on the backside of the scale. After a few seconds in the ice water, the thermometer should read 32°F. If it does not, twist the nut to adjust the needle until it rests on the 32ºF mark. And you are done! Your thermometer is calibrated! Yay!
- A large, cool nonreactive, straight-sided stock pot.
- This means no aluminum. Stainless steel is best.
- A strainer or colander
- I used a strainer, I think it saves time later.
- A couple of large microwave safe bowls
- A large slotted spoon and a long handled straight spatula.
- 1 gallon whole milk
- It has to be whole milk. Raw milk is best. However, it can be difficult to find raw milk. Here in WS, the closest dairy farm is over 100 miles away. That is a bit too far to drive for a couple gallons of milk! Pasteurized milk (Which is what I used) works just fine. Just DON”T use ultra-pasteurized. It will not come together properly. I have heard it said, in my area at least, that some health food stores will special order raw milk for you. I am sure it is outrageously priced, but if you really want raw milk, you can try that option.
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Citric Acid combined with 1/4 cup warm water.
- You can get citric acid from most health food stores. I had to buy mine from Amazon.com. I looked around to see if I could use lemon juice or vinegar in place of citric acid but I could find no information on substituting them. The next time I make cheese, I plan to make two batches, one substituting lemon juice and the other using vinegar in a 1:1 conversion. Citric acid comes in loose power and tablet form. Either will work, but if you buy the tablets, you’ll have to crush them up first, so it sames time to buy the powder.
- 1/4 Teaspoon Vegetable Rennet combined with 1 Cup cool water.
- Rennet comes in liquid form or tablet form. I used liquid rennet purchased from the New England Cheese-making Supply Company website, via Amazon.com. Here is a link to their homepage. http://www.cheesemaking.com/ They sell cheese making equipment and ingredients. Do not use Junket rennet as it is weaker, more diluted form. It is fine for making yogurt, I believe, but no good for cheese-making. Rennet is available as animal rennet (which comes from the stomachs of calves, how I don’t know) and vegetable (which is a vegetarian substitute.) I used vegetable rennet but there is n o functional difference between the two. You can get organic rennet for a dollar more.
- Place citric acid in the bottom of the stock pot with 1/4 cup warm water. Stir to dissolve.
- Add milk. Stir to combine.
- Heat to 90ºF. Use medium heat, so as to not scorch the milk. Milk will begin to curdle. It will look like tiny white flecks in the milk. This is what you want. The liquid that the flecks are floating in will begin to look yellowish in color. This is supposed to happen. This is the whey.
- Remove from heat. Add rennet, mixed with water.
- Stir continuously for 30 seconds, then use the spoon to still the movement of the liquid. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Do not touch it.
- After five minutes, the curds (solids) will have separated from the whey (liquid).
- Cut the curd into 1 inch cubes using the spatula, making sure to reach all the way to the bottom.
- Return to heat and heat to 105ºF, stirring constantly.
- Once it reaches 105º, use the slotted spoon to scoop out the curd and transfer it to a strainer or colander set over a bowl. By this time, it will definitely taste like (unsalted) mozzarella and begin to look like it.
- If you are using a strainer, this step isn’t needed, it you are using a colander, it is. Roll the colander around to allow as much of the whey to drain off as possible.
- Pick up the curd and squeeze it together to drain off more whey.
- Move to a microwave safe bowl and heat for 1 minute. (I found this to be too much time in my microwave. If your microwave is more powerful, you can adjust the time as you think fit. I halved the times given in the original recipe. ) If you don’t have a microwave, or would prefer not to use it, you can allow the cheese to sit in hot (not very) water (you can also use the whey for this) for the time indicated. You want to keep the cheese malleable but not melt it entirely.
- Squeeze out more whey, heat it, squeeze it, and so on. All subsequent sessions in the microwave or hot whey should be about half the first time. Be careful during this part of the process, the curd will be hot.
- Press the curds together and squeeze out as much whey as you can. If you use a strainer, you only have to heat and squeeze twice to remove all the whey.
- Knead the curd in your hands (not on a surface as you would bread), pulling and stretching the cheese until it is smooth and soft. At this time, knead in any salt or spices that you want to add. Roll edges under to form a neat round ball.
- Let sit in an ice water bath and allow to cool completely. This only take a few minutes. Then it is ready to eat.
Mozzarella should be eaten fresh. But if you don’t want to eat it all in one sitting, it will store for a few days, up to a week, in the refrigerator. Make sure that it is wrapped completely in plastic wrap or in an airtight container.
The whey that is left over, and there will be A LOT of it, has many uses. I’ll make a separate blog post about all of those. Store the whey in the fridge until you use it. it will keep for at least 2 weeks.
There! I hope you enjoy making and eating this cheese. It was so tasty between slices of my mom’s amazing homemade bread. A wonderful treat.