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Monday, June 18, 2012

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

Now, I think I may have crossed a line in the world of cooking. I have been making dinners and baking all sorts of craziness over the past few years, but I think making your own cheese enters you into a new level of insanity. 
So stretchy!!!

But seriously, how amazing is warm, fresh mozzarella? Creamy, stringy, rich... what's not to love. Plus, mozzarella is so versatile that you can use it in everything (that is if you don't gobble it up right away). And when you see how easy this recipe is, you'll be as tempted as I was. Its like a little science experiment happening on your stove top!

Another note: don't be scared by the foreign ingredients (you can order them on Amazon or through or the number of steps. If you can boil water and stir, you can handle this.

  • 1 gallon 2% Milk, not ultra-pasteurized (you can use whole milk but 1% or skim will make the cheese rubbery)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Citric Acid powder, dissolved in 1/4 cup room-temperature water
  • 1/4 tsp. Liquid Rennet or 1/2 tablet Rennet, dissolved in 1/4 cup room-temperature water (I used vegetable rennet from the link above)
  • 1 tsp. Cheese (Flake) Salt or Kosher Salt
1. Pour the milk in to a large pot (I used a large dutch oven).  On medium-low, heat slowly to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  Stir slowly and continuously to keep from scalding.
2. Once the milk reaches 55 degrees, pour in the citric acid mixture and stir well. Keep heating. You'll probably notice the milk beginning to curdle a little.
3.  When the milk hits 88 degrees, add the rennet mixture and stir well.  Right around this time the milk will start to thicken, and you’ll see little white flecks stick to your spoon as it starts curdling.
4. Once the milk is in the 90-degree range, it should be noticeably curdled.  Stir very gently at this point, if at all — you want to encourage the curds to knit together.
5. Between 95 and 105 degrees, the curds will be quite thick. Turn off the heat once they start separating from the sides of the pot, and there’s a very clear distinction between the curds (white clumps) and whey (yellow liquid).
 Let the curds rest for 5 minutes.
7. With a perforated or slotted spoon, ladle the curds into a bowl.  The curds will continue expelling whey once they’re in the bowl, which is fine.  Once you have pulled most of the curds out of the pot (some little bits will probably still be floating about), pour any excess whey back in the pot.
 Using a microwave, heat the curds for 60 seconds.  Drain off any excess whey, then fold the curds over once, then once again.  This is to distribute the heat evenly. I would recommend using rubber gloves to hold the cheese with. Its super hot and the rubber gloves will shield your hands from the heat. It also helps to rub oil on them beforehand so that the cheese doesn't stick to the gloves.
9. Microwave again for about 30-40 seconds, depending on the strength of your microwave.  Pour off the whey.
10. Sprinkle the salt onto the cheese, and then fold the curds over twice again.  Put them back into the microwave for another 30-40 seconds.  Pour of any excess whey.
11. At this point, the cheese should be very hot, and look like melted mozzarella!
12.  Stretch the cheese, and then fold it back on itself. If it tears when you try to stretch it, the cheese is not hot enough; just repeat the microwaving process. Stretch it again once or twice. If you want a more string-cheese like cheese, do it a few more times.
13. You can then twist or braid the cheese, or tear off pieces and roll them into small balls.  If you’re going to refrigerate the cheese for later, drop it in a bowl of ice water to get the temperature down quickly. Otherwise, just dig in while it’s still warm
(My batch from 2% publix milk made about 10-12 oz of cheese)
What will you do with all this mozzarella??? 
Make Mozzarella Pesto Tomato Chicken Sandwiches!!!

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