I love cheese. I could probably eat some every day. Actually, I probably do eat some every day. Every single day. A long time ago I decided I wanted to make cheese. I remember watching a show about cheese many years ago, it seemed incredibly difficult and looked like it could only be done by highly skilled lab technicians wearing white coats and hair nets. So upon seeing the difficulty and skill level needed, and don’t forget the hair nets, I let that dream die. Until recently when I heard fresh mozzarella is incredibly easy to make.
What? Its not just easy, but incredibly easy? All of a sudden the dream has returned and I can proudly say I am a cheese maker!
I did not wear the white lab coat or hair net, but believe it or not, I made some pretty decent cheese!
I cut off a few slices and taste tested them. Pretty good. Pretty damned good actually. But the real test for fresh mozzarella is pizza. So I fired up the pizza oven and cooked this masterpiece!
You only need a handful of items to make mozzarella. And while you can buy everything individually, getting a Cheese Making Kit is probably the easiest way to go. At least in the beginning of your cheese making journey.
So here are the main items, milk and the cheese making kit.
The kit has everything you need for making cheese, except those cool looking hair nets and lab coats. Oh well, maybe I can order them somewhere else?
The main components of the kit are the instructions, thermometer, rennet tablets, citric acid, cheese salt, and cheesecloth for making ricotta. Which I have not tried yet.
You basically dissolve some of the rennet tablet in some water.
Pour the milk into a pot, add some citric acid.
Heat it slowly to 90 degrees, while stirring.
Once it hits 90 degrees, remove it from the heat, add the rennet mix you dissolved earlier, stir it a bit, then cover it and leave it alone for 20 minutes.
It will be kinda nasty looking after those twenty minutes, that’s how you know its working.
Then you need to separate the curd from the whey. I used a slotted spoon to transfer the curd into a mixing bowl.
Then used the same spoon to drain off more of the whey.
Then I put the mixing bowl with the curd into the microwave for some sessions of 30 seconds of heat/draining. Pulled it out, drained more whey, pushed down on the curd to release even more whey, then back into the microwave.
After a few of these microwave heat/drain sessions you will have most of the whey drained off. Then you can start stretching the curd.
I gave it some heat, then used a “folding over” technique to get it all heated evenly. You can feel the consistency start to change and the cheese starts to stretch.
After a couple of minutes the ball of cheese will start to get shiny.
Once it gets “shiny” and feels pretty “stretchy” I cut it into two halves. I then worked each half, pulling, stretching, etc.
Once you feel you have played with it enough, and it is ready, shape it into its final shape. I used an oval, log shape. I guess you could totally geek out and make perfect squares, triangles, or even little space alien figures if you want. Once you have your final shape, place it in a bowl of ice water to chill it and set the shape.
Leave it to cool for a couple of minutes. Then take it out, shake off the excess water, and wrap it snugly in some clear plastic wrap.
I used one gallon of milk and I only used the curd to make the cheese. They whey can be saved and used for other things, like making ricotta cheese or even used as an ingredient in other recipes. I read somewhere that using the whey instead of water in a bread recipe makes for some pretty tasty and rich bread. I have not tried this. Yet.
The one gallon of milk left me with just under a pound of mozzarella. 14.45 ounces to be exact. But it was plenty for the pizzas we made last night.
If you enjoy fresh mozzarella but have never thought you could make it at home. And do it in under 30 minutes! You should really give this a try.
I also picked up a cheese making book and have my eye on a few other cheese types. Don’t worry, I will post pictures…