Junk Free SNOW day! Making homemade mozzarella cheese

This week the kids and I all cheered when school was cancelled due to a snow storm.  They were excited for obvious reasons, but I was excited because it meant our neighbor could come over and teach us how to make cheese!  To be honest, I had never even considered making my own cheese but when she mentioned we could whip up a big batch of fresh mozzarella in 30 minutes I started praying for snow.

18″ of snow, 6 kids and just a few ingredients and we had a pizza party!  It was so easy and fun I couldn’t wait to share it.  And, to make it even easier, the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company has created a kit with everything you need to make your own mozzarella.  Check it out at www.cheesemaking.com.  Although there aren’t many ingredients needed to make the cheese, there are a few “specialty” items:  citric acid, a dairy thermometer, and rennet tablets.  Apparently you can find these items at supermarkets — citric acid and thermometer in the baking aisle, rennet tablets near the ice cream (because they’re sometimes used to make ice cream),  — but, at least in our area, I haven’t had much luck.  Luckily, the main ingredient, milk, is easy to find.  Just be sure to buy whole milk (organic, of course) that is “pasteurized”, not “ultra-pasteurized”  (the high heat used in the ultra-pasteurization process damages the calcium to the point that the milk will not create proper curds).   Here’s how to make your own homemade fresh mozzarella – in only 30 minutes!

Step 1:   Dissolve a 1/4 tablet of rennet in 1/4 cup of cold water and set aside.

Step 2:Dissolve 1.5 teaspoons of citric acid in 1 cup of cool water and pour into 1 gallon of cold milk.

Step 3:  

Stir the citric acid into the milk and heat to 90 degrees.  The whey and the curds start to separate (start to look a little gross).

Stir the citric acid into the milk and heat to 90 degrees. The whey and the curds start to separate (start to look a little gross).

 

Step 4: When the milk reaches 90 degrees, add the rennet that you dissolved in 1/4 cup of water.  Stir the milk/rennet mixture for 30 seconds then remove from heat and cover for 5 minutes.

Step 5: 

After 5 minutes you'll notice the milk has separated with thick white curds floating on top of clear whey.  Cut the curds with a long knife into a checkerboard pattern.

After 5 minutes you’ll notice the milk has separated with thick white curds floating on top of clear whey. Cut the curds with a long knife into a checkerboard pattern. (photo from www.cheesemaking.com)

Step 6: After cutting, place the pot back on the burner and heat to 105 degrees while stirring.  Once warmed up, remove from the heat and stir for a few minutes.

Step 7: Now it’s time to get rid of the whey and start making cheese!  Pour the curds and whey into a colander and drain away the whey.

Step 8: 

Transfer the curds to a microwave safe bowl and heat for about 1 minute in the microwave.  Pour off any additional whey.

Transfer the curds to a microwave safe bowl and heat for about 1 minute in the microwave.

 

 

Step 9: 

Start to knead the cheese (you're going to want your plastic gloves for this so you don't get burned!) and check the temperature.  Once it's about 135 degrees you can start stretching it.

Start to knead the cheese. You’re going to want your plastic gloves for this so you don’t get burned! Pop it back into the microwave for :30 and drain any remaining whey. Start to knead again and check the temperature. Once it’s about 135 degrees you can start stretching it.

 

Step 10: If the cheese is not warm enough, pop it back in the microwave for another :30 or so.  If it’s about 135 degrees you’re ready to s-t-r-e-t-c-h!

stretch the cheese

Stretch the cheese two or three times and work about 1 teaspoon of salt into the cheese.

 

Step 11:  Form the cheese into a nice shiny ball and drop it into a cold water bath for a few seconds.

Step 12: 

Once it's cooled down, wrap it up in some plastic wrap to save for later or just start eating it!  Delicious!

Once it’s cooled down, wrap it up in some plastic wrap to save for later or just start eating it! Delicious! Celebrate your cheese making with some champagne :)

 

You can also get fancy by braiding your mozzarella or flattening it and covering it with prosciutto, herbs, or anything you like then rolling it into a log.   We chose to shred it to make some homemade pizzas. Yum!

Liam and Maeve rolling out the homemade pizza dough.

Liam and Maeve rolling out the homemade pizza dough.

 

Pizza!

Pizza!

 

 

 

 

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese
 
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 gallon whole milk, pasteurized, NOT ultra-pasteurized (or farm fresh if you can get it!)
  • 1.5 teaspoons citric acid
  • ¼ tablet or ¼ teaspoon rennet
  • 1 t kosher salt (or cheese salt, or non-iodized sea salt)
  • Special Equipment:
  • large stainless steel pot (aluminum and cast iron won't work)
  • dairy thermometer
  • plastic gloves (to stretch the hot cheese without burning yourself!)
Instructions
  1. Dissolve 1.5 t citric acid in 1 cup of cold water. Also dissolve ¼ teaspoon of rennet (or ¼ of a tablet) in ¼ cup of cold water and set aside.
  2. Pour the citric acid water and milk into a stainless steel pot and heat to 90 degrees while stirring.
  3. When milk reaches 90 degrees remove from heat and stir the rennet water into the milk. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
  4. After 5 minutes the curd should resemble custard floating on top of the watery whey. (If it's too soft let it sit a few more minutes. ) Take a long knife and cut at an angle through the curd in a checkerboard pattern.
  5. Return the pot to the heat and warm to 105 degrees while stirring slowly. Once warm remove from the heat and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.
  6. Drain the curds and whey through a colander. Press as much whey as possible from the curds.
  7. Transfer the curds to a bowl and microwave for 1 minute.
  8. Remove from microwave and knead the curds (with plastic gloves on to prevent being burned!) to release excess whey. Drain the whey and microwave for another :30 seconds.
  9. Check the temperature and when at 135 degrees begin kneading the cheese until it begins to stretch.
  10. Stretch the cheese a few times then sprinkle the salt onto it and knead it in. Stretch some more then roll it into a smooth ball and dunk it in a cold water bath to cool it down.
  11. Remove from the water and wrap in plastic wrap (or braid it, or layer additional ingredients on it like prosciutto, herbs, etc. and roll into a log). Pop into the refrigerator for later or eat it now!

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