I know it’s freakishly weird to make everything from scratch but it’s just so much fun. Now, I usually buy my cheeses…..but mozzarella is amazingly easy to make and less expensive to make from scratch than to buy fresh. And let’s face it, the fresh stuff just tastes SO much better than the rubbery stuff that comes in a rectangular block wrapped in plastic from the grocery store. We can all admit that, right? I got my cheesemaking directions from www.cheesemaking.com. Go to recipes and you will see recipes for making a great many cheese varieties. You can also buy cheesemaking supplies and even kits….but you don’t need a kit. You just need whole milk, rennet, and citric acid. I bought this stuff at Greenlife. Whole milk you can obviously find anywhere; rennet and citric acid, not so much. Rennet is in the cheese section; citric acid you can buy from a jar in the bulk vitamin/medicinal section. You do want to make sure you don’t use ultra-pasteurized milk.
The recipe on the website calls for a full gallon of milk. Since I used a half-gallon, all of the proportions are halved. Dissolve 3/4 teaspoon of citric acid in 1/2 cup of cool water, then pour it into the milk. Heat the milk slowly to 90 degrees, stirring occasionally to distribute the heat.
Once the temp reaches 90, dissolve 1/8 teaspoon of rennet into 2 Tablespoons of cool water and pour into the milk. Turn off the heat and clamp on the lid. Check after 5 minutes to see if curds have formed; if not or if they are too soft, give it another few minutes. Mine took about 9 minutes in all.
It’s curds and whey! Once you’ve reached this point. begin removing the curds from the pot. We did it with a spider for a few minutes, but finally we just poured it all into the strainer. Begin to press the curds together with a spoon, draining the whey as it pools in the bottom of the bowl. By the way, I added salt at this point. You don’t have to add salt, but I like to, although I couldn’t tell you how much I actually put in. I just grabbed my grinder and ground it in until it “felt right.”
When you can’t press out any more whey, put the bowl in the microwave (I don’t think I have to tell you that I switched to a glass bowl for this step) and microwave for 30 seconds (the website says one minute but I’ve done this before and one minute makes that cheese seriously HOT). Transfer back to your strainer and continue pressing out the whey, returning to the microwave another time or two (I microwaved my cheese for a total of one minute) and pressing until you’ve gotten as much whey out as possible. Then, pick up the cheese and begin to stretch and fold it until it’s smooth. Be careful! It’s very hot. I stretched for a few seconds, set it down to let my hands cool, then stretched some more.
Once your cheese is nice and smooth, roll it into a ball. I actually divided mine into two portions of about 4 1/2 ounces each. No, they are not lovely and smooth like what you buy at the store. This is my 3rd time making cheese-cut me some slack! But it tasted GREAT….we ate half of the cheese on a pizza that night, and the other half is in the freezer now. So-go make your own cheese-it’s easy!