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 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 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 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!
Step 11: Form the cheese into a nice shiny ball and drop it into a cold water bath for a few seconds.
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!
- 1 gallon whole milk, pasteurized, NOT ultra-pasteurized (or farm fresh if you can get it!)
- 1.5 teaspoons citric acid
- 1/4 tablet or 1/4 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!)
- Dissolve 1.5 t citric acid in 1 cup of cold water. Also dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of rennet (or 1/4 of a tablet) in 1/4 cup of cold water and set aside.
- Pour the citric acid water and milk into a stainless steel pot and heat to 90 degrees while stirring.
- When milk reaches 90 degrees remove from heat and stir the rennet water into the milk. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Drain the curds and whey through a colander. Press as much whey as possible from the curds.
- Transfer the curds to a bowl and microwave for 1 minute.
- 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.
- Check the temperature and when at 135 degrees begin kneading the cheese until it begins to stretch.
- 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.
- 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!