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Read on below for her step-by-step tutorial (and recipe!) for making delicious mozzarella at home.
I am by no means a cheesemonger. Before we talked about writing this post, I'd only ever made ricotta. So, being thorough, I decided to make mozzarella enough times to feel comfortable sharing a method. I've been practicing in the FOOD52 kitchen, and in my own kitchen, for months (I like to be really thorough). For a while I thought I could make it happen without rennet, but I tested my theory and know better now. You need rennet. You also need citric acid powder. Luckily, those things are easy to locate. If you can find non-homogenized milk, I suggest you use that -- and please, stick to whole milk. The rest is really easy and fun, and if I can do it, anyone can.
I'm showing you how I've successfully made mozzarella but if you have any tips, or favorite sources for supplies, I hope you'll share them in the comments section.
First you have to make the curd. Start by dissolving rennet (on the left) and citric acid (on the right) in water. I prefer the rennet tablets over the liquid rennet. You can order these ingredients from Dairy Connection or The Cheesemaker. We also found this kit which has enough supplies to make four batches of cheese.
You can sometimes buy mozzarella curd from a local cheese shop, but making it from scratch is so satisfying. And it really doesn't take very long, so why not?
Pour your milk into a pot and heat it to 85 degrees F over a medium-low flame, then add the citric acid solution. Using a slotted spoon, give the milk a gentle stir. Keep an eye on the temperature.
Let the milk heat up to 100 degrees F and add the rennet mixture. Very gently stir the milk -- you'll start to see curds, just lift them up and down a few times and make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Don't over-stir or move your spoon vigorously.
When the milk reaches 105 degrees F, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let it sit for 10 minutes. The curds will have come together into a solid-looking mass, the whey will have a yellow tint -- just like the photo on the right.
Place a colander on top of a bowl. Use a slotted spoon to lift the curds and place them into the colander. Let the whey drain off.
Lift the colander to keep draining the whey. Using your hands, very gently (that's the key word when dealing with curds) press the whey out of the curds.
When your curds are drained, break them up into evenly sized pieces.
You need hot water for the next step -- as hot as your hands can handle. I've found that 180 degrees F is a good temperature for this step (but that's me, go your own way if that's too hot). I like to bring it to a boil and let it cool -- use your thermometer here and be careful when you're testing the water with your hands. Wearing food-safe gloves can help protect your hands from the heat if you're sensitive.
And don't forget to salt your water here, this is when your cheese gets flavor. You can buy cheese salt, but any non-iodized coarse salt will do. Gently drop curds into the water.
Using a large spoon, lift the curds to see if they're ready for kneading. They're ready when they are melty-looking, like in the photo on the right.
Now's the fun part: stretch and knead!
And stretch and knead. If the cheese starts to get cold and stiff, dunk it back into the hot water. Keep doing this until the cheese starts to feel smooth -- you don't want your mozzarella to have a rough, flaky exterior. This can take anywhere from 5-20 minutes.
Then form the cheese into a ball, or any other shape you might want.
There you have it.
Garnish as you like, and enjoy.
Makes 1 large or 2 small mozzarella balls
1/4 rennet enzyme tablet
1/4 cup cold filtered water (to mix with the rennet)
1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
1 cup cold filtered water (to mix with the citric acid)
1 gallon whole milk (non-homogenized is best)
Salt to taste