Although it sounds daunting, making cheese is actually not that difficult. My best advice regarding getting it done is to make it with a friend the first time, and whether with or without help, prepare EVERYTHING ahead of time. Once you’ve begun the process, you’ll be busy with stirring, checking temperatures, moving things around and so on. You won’t have time to be washing or finding your supplies, or being otherwise distracted. This isn’t one of those projects where you throw it on the stove and wait for the magic. You are a very important part of the magic.
What you need:
- 1 1/2 Teaspoon Citric Acid
- Cheese Salt
- 1 Gallon Milk (this recipe is for pasteurized whole milk)
- Vegetable Rennet Tablets
- 1 1/4 Cups cool distilled water (chlorine-free will work)
Supplies — Clean everything well. No food residue allowed!
- Butter Muslin or Fine-Weave Cheese Cloth
- Several Prep Bowls (glass, stainless steel or enamel)
- Slotted Spoon (metal)
- Large Pot
- Long Knife
- Microwavable Bowl
- Microwave and Stove
1. The first thing you’ll do after prepping and cleaning all of your supplies is to dissolve 1/4 rennet tablet in 1/4 cup water.
2. In a second small bowl or cup mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of citric acid into one cup of water. Stir until the citric acid is dissolved, and then pour it into the large pot.
3. Add one gallon of milk to the large pot and turn the heat on to medium-high. This is when things start requiring your attention, so go grab the thermometer and slotted spoon and begin stirring while the liquid reaches 90° F.
4. Remove the pot from the hot burner, and pour in the rennet solution as you move the spoon up and down continually for about 30-45 seconds.
5. Cover the pot and set a timer for 5 minutes. This is your chance to make sure your set up is looking good.
- Place a bowl of water in the fridge, and another in the freezer. This is for cooling the cheese later.
- Place your colander over a bowl to catch the liquid when you drain your cheese curds. Note: do not throw out the liquid. It is called “whey” and it is great for lots of things (which I’ll discuss when you’re done making cheese).
- Have the microwave safe bowl ready beside the strainer and bowl.
6. Once the 5 minutes is up, check the curd (the curd is the solid stuff that is now separate from the liquid, which is called whey). It should now not look milky. It should be solid white curd with clear-ish liquid/whey. If yours still looks milky, simply allow it to sit for a few more minutes.
7 Use your long knife to cut a line into your curd, all the way to the bottom of the pan.
8. Place the pot back on the burner and heat slowly to 110° while stirring with the slotted spoon. Stir gently with the idea that you’re keeping the curds together, and just move them around. You’re not trying to mix the liquid back into the curds.
9. Remove the pot again from the burner and stir for 2-5 minutes. The longer you stir, the more firm your final cheese will be.
10. Gently begin spooning or ladling the curds into the colander (I lined mine with muslin, but you do not have to do so), allowing the whey to drain off into the bowl below. You may press lightly to help squeeze out the whey, but not too much.
11. Move the drained curds to the microwavable bowl. Heat for one minute in the microwave. Drain off more whey. At this point, you may add 1/2-1 teaspoon cheese salt. Cheese salt is finer than regular salt, but you can use regular salt if needed. You may also wish to add herbs once you’ve confident with the recipe.
12. Microwave in 30-second intervals until the temperature is between 160-170°, stirring and draining in between. The stirring motion is best when pulled from the outer edge of the curd, and bringing it back toward the center. Once it reaches 160°+ it should resemble taffy.
13. Keep stirring and working the curd until it is cool enough to handle by hand. At this time, you can begin pulling the curds and stretching the cheese till it is smooth and shiny. The more you work it, the firmer the final cheese will be.
14. Shape the cheese. Working quickly, roll your cheese into whatever shape you like. You can braid it, make sticks, balls or knots of varying sizes. You can use the muslin or cheesecloth to squeeze it into shapes, or your bare hands.
15. Cool the cheese by first submerging it into the water from the fridge for 15 minutes. After that, move it to the water from the freezer. The fridge water step helps keep the cheese from becoming mealy like a farm cheese, as opposed to a smoother, stringy cheese.
That’s it! You’ve made mozzarella cheese! Wrap and refrigerate it, or serve it right away.
Serving suggestion: Marinate in olive oil with fresh herbs like basil and oregano. You can also simply drizzle olive oil over the cheese and sprinkle with fresh herbs. This goes great with a Caprese salad or Caprese appetizer. Serve with fresh tomatoes, basil and a splash of balsamic vinegar with olive oil.
Here’s another set of pictures of another batch I made:
How did your cheese turn out? Did you have problems with my recipe and method? Let me know in the comments, and I will be happy to help troubleshoot problems and/or improve my instructions. This method is what works best for me, but is by no means the only way to make mozzarella.