Saturday, July 15, 2017

Homemade Mozzarella (Second Try) SUCCESS!

May I gloat? :)))))

I really take pleasure in creating and after the first Mozzarella didn't quite cut the mustard...I tried again this morning and it was a wonderful success! I'll go through the recipe and the steps again because I tried a different recipe with a different method this time. I'm a believer in old school methods, but I have to say...this microwave method IS A KEEPER.

(from the Kitch'n website; there is a great video on there too, here is the You Tube version)

4 liters of milk 
(the recipe calls for 1 gallon, which is really 3.8 liters, but I used the whole 4L container...I'll be more careful in future cheese making!)
Filtered water
1 1/2 tsp citric acid
1/4 tsp liquid rennet (I used 1/8 tsp double strength liquid)
1-2 tsp cheese salt (or Kosher salt)

Update: (July 16th) I originally used 1 1/2 tsp of cheese salt in the cheese during the folding and stretching...then added 1 tsp to the whey to store the cheese. A day later? WAY too salty! Next time I'll just use half the amount! I think this part is very subjective because usually we love salty cheese, but it was slightly overkill.

You will need:
Minimum 6-quart pot (aluminum is not suggested)
Slotted spoon
Measuring cups and spoons
2 large bowls (one needs to be microwavable)
Long cheese-cutting knife (I used an icing knife - perfect substitute!)
Rubber gloves or heat-proof hands if you have them ;)


This photo shows one of my new tools I got for cheese making - a stainless steel slotted spoon. ESSENTIAL. A tip for cheese making is the up and down "cheese maker's stir". You slowly lift the spoon up and push it down in the milk and so on, to keep an even temperature in your cheese making.

1. Prepare the Citric Acid and Rennet
Measure out 1 cup of water. Stir in the citric acid until dissolved. Measure out 1/4 cup of water in a separate bowl. Stir in the rennet until dissolved.

2. Warm the Milk
Pour the milk into the pot. Stir in the citric acid solution. Set the pot over medium heat and warm to 90°F, stirring gently. At this heat, my curds started to form.

3. Add the Rennet
Remove the pot from heat and gently stir in the rennet solution. Count to 30 (one-banana-two-banana-three-banana...). Stop stirring, cover the pot, and let it sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. I was making coffee and let it sit 7 minutes.

4. Cut the Curds
After five minutes, the milk should have set, and it should look and feel like soft silken tofu. If it is still liquidy, re-cover the pot and let it sit for another five minutes. Once the milk has set, cut it into uniform curds: make several parallel cuts vertically through the curds and then several parallel cuts horizontally, creating a grid-like pattern. Make sure your knife reaches all the way to the bottom of the pot. 

Here is my "checkerboard" pattern. At this point I knew my cheese would be a success because my last batch was still quite runny at this point.

5. Cook the Curds 
Place the pot back on the stove over medium heat and warm the curds to 105°F. Stir slowly as the curds warm, but try not to break them up too much. The curds will eventually clump together and separate more completely from the yellow whey. My curds did separate quite a bit even though I was super gentle with the stirring.

6. Remove the Curds from Heat and Stir
Remove the pot from the heat and continue stirring gently for another 5 minutes.

After Separating, there is still some whey in the curds - that's okay!

7. Separate the Curds from the Whey and Microwave
Ladle the curds into a microwave-safe bowl with the slotted spoon (don't throw out the whey). 

This is what it looks like after the first minute microwaved.

Microwave the curds for one minute, whey and all. After one minute microwaved, drain off the whey. Put on your rubber gloves and fold the curds over on themselves a few times. At this point, the curds will still be very loose and cottage-cheese-like. Note: this is where the video comes in handy, really shows you the simple technique of folding.

8. Microwave the Curds to 135°F
Microwave the curds for another 30 seconds and check their internal temperature. If the temperature has reached 135°F, continue to the next step. If not, continue microwaving in 30-second bursts until they reach temperature. The curds need to reach this temperature in order to stretch properly.
(Mine took 2 minutes total)

9. Stretch and Shape the Mozzarella
When my curds reached 135F, I drained what was left of the whey - though the recipe didn't mention this. Honestly, unless your skin is made of asbestos...use TWO sets of disposable gloves for this next step. I felt the heat despite this, but my hands were safe. 135F is HOT. I'm going to have to look for a better solution...heat-proof cheese making gloves? Do they exist??

Sprinkle 1 1/2 tsps salt over the cheese and squish it with your fingers to incorporate. (July 16th Update: For our taste this is WAY too salty...I'd use 1/2 - 1 tsp only) Using both hands, stretch and fold the curds repeatedly. It will start to tighten, become firm, and take on a glossy sheen. When this happens, you are ready to shape the mozzarella. Make one large ball, two smaller balls, or several bite-sized bocconcini. Try not to over-work the mozzarella. Note: my last batch tore like crazy and I couldn't stretch it at all! This was like a dream to stretch! The little "bubbles" are the cheese salt that hadn't melted yet.

NOTE ABOUT SALT:  If you use iodized salt (table salt) it will kill the lactic bacteria in the cheese - which is essential for aging. Mozzarella isn't aged, but I read tips to just never use table salt in cheese making ever. Buy cheese salt from a cheese making supply shop or use Kosher salt.

10. Using and Storing Your Mozzarella 
The mozzarella can be used immediately or kept refrigerated for a week. To refrigerate, place the mozzarella in a small container. Mix a teaspoon of cheese salt with a cup of cool whey and pour this over the mozzarella. (July 16th Update: Again, the day after, we found this is WAY too salty...I wouldn't even salt the whey for storage) Cover and refrigerate. This recipe took a total of just about an hour to make and made about a pound of cheese. Price-wise, it cost me $7.35 for the milk. The cost of the rennet, citric acid and salt...well, I have TONS of it, so I could divide that up by 25 batches (which I'm sure I have more than enough for) and add 40 cents...$7.75 for two containers of Mozzarella which would cost me $9.98 at the store. Not to mention, there are no additives in mine! As I said, SUCCESS!

A sunny day, a glass of red wine and good company is all you need with a nice cheese plate!! Want to join us? Better hurry, this cheese won't last long!!! :))


Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

I'll be right over to try some! LOL But I'm probably too late :)
It looks so good! Thanks for sharing all the steps. Perhaps when the dust settles around here and everything that's keeping me busy calms down, I'll give this a try. Until then, I'll enjoy reading about your successes and your enthusiasm!

Mama Pea said...

Success, indeed! You should "gloat" as much as you want. I know they say we make time for the things we really want to do, but I honestly can't squeeze one more thing in this summer. (I'm talking about cheese making.) If I did, I'd have to give up sleeping and we all know how much I need my beauty sleep. Plus, the cheese would be a new kind with soil and sawdust in it. ;o) But I've never been so inspired as I have by following your efforts. Keep it up!

Rain said...

Oh thanks Martha! :))) You're actually not too far away, but I bet by the time you drove here, the cheese would have been completely eaten lol...making my first successful Mozzarella was such a proud moment for me. The first batch was very different, this one was sliceable. We have to try it out on our next pizza! :) I'm glad you're enjoying it, and I do hope your dust settles and you can try making cheese, it's fun, challenging too, but so rewarding!

Rain said...

Thanks Mama Pea! :))) I will continue to gloat! As I type this, we have one empty container of cheese and plan to eat the other one tomorrow! :) I can't wait to get my 12-quart pot so I can start the Cheddar process...that makes me nervous though because it needs to age at the proper temperature and humidity...Alex and I are going to a used appliance store nearby next week to look for a fridge for the "cheese cave"! :)

Here's advice that I learned the hard way: Don't make cheese if you don't have time. I had so much on my plate during my first Mozza trial that my nerves were on end lol. It really takes time and patience and your full attention. I read about the Cheddar and the first part of the process needs 4 hours of your time and attention. I think that starting in the winter is a great idea, we all have more time then, I just had ants in my pants to start!!

Nicole Thomas said...

Congratulations !!! I need to try this...will order my supplies tomorrow !!!

MrsDuncanMahogany said...

Man I wish I lived closer....

It all looks gorgeous!

Jenn said...

Gloat away!! That's fantastic! I always had the idea that making cheese was more time consuming!

Treey Stynes said...

Fascinating to follow. So much detail.

Leigh said...

I'm on my way! LOL. Great post with excellent photos. I do believe you're a natural for making cheese. :)

Rain said...

Thanks Nik! Let me know how it goes! :) Don't let all the little ones distract you though...if that's possible lol...

Rain said...

Thanks Dianna :) I wish you did too. :)

Rain said...

Thanks Jenn :) Actually I think I got off easy on the Mozzarella...I'm seeing 4 hours as the first step of the Cheddar! But I'm up for it! :)

Rain said...

Thanks Treey :) I'm glad you're enjoying it. :)

Rain said...

Lol Leigh, come on down! Or come on up, I guess is the correct geographical phrase :) I think I'll see after the Cheddar if I'm really a natural or not! I still have to set up my little "cheese cave" for the aging process!

Nicole Thomas said...

It will be an after bedtime project for sure ;)

Rain said...

I think that's wise Nik! :)