This is the result of multiple trials in the FOOD52 test kitchen, and at home. —Kristy Mucci
1 large or 2 small mozzarella balls
Rennet Enzyme Tablet
Cup Cold Filtered Water (to mix with the rennet)
Teaspoon Citric Acid
Cup Cold Filtered Water (to mix with the citric acid)
Gallon Whole Milk (non-homogenized is best)
Non-Iodized Coarse Salt, to taste
In This Recipe
In a small bowl, mix the rennet with 1/4 cup water to dissolve. In another small bowl, mix the citric acid with 1 cup water to dissolve.
Pour your milk into a pot and heat it to 85 degrees over a medium-low flame, then add the citric acid solution. Using a slotted spoon, give the milk a gentle stir. Let the milk heat up to 100 degrees.
Once the milk reaches 100 degrees, add the rennet mixture. Very gently stir the milk -- you'll start to see curds, just lift them up and down a few times (don't stir for more than 30 seconds). Keep a close eye on the temperature and let it heat up to 105 degrees.
When the milk reaches 105 degrees, 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. To make sure it's ready, press the back of a spoon into the curds -- if the indentation stays, they're ready.
Place a colander on top of a bowl. Using a slotted spoon, lift the curds and place them into the colander to let the whey drain off. Lift the colander to keep draining. Using your hands, very gently press the curds into the colander to release more whey. You want to remove as much whey as possible while handling the curds as gently as possible. They should feel firm when they're ready for kneading.
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Make sure the water is salty enough to flavor the cheese (I like it to taste at least as salty as the sea). Once it's reached the boil, turn off the heat and let the water cool to 180 degrees, or as hot as your hands can handle. Food-safe gloves can help protect your hands from the heat if you're sensitive.
While the water is boiling and cooling, break up your drained curds into evenly-sized pieces.
When the water is at the right temperature for you, gently drop the curds into the pot. Use all the curds to make one large mozzarella ball, or divide them in half to make two smaller ones.
Using a large spoon, lift the curds to see if they're ready for kneading. They're ready when they are melty and stretching off the spoon.
Now it's time to stretch and knead. If the cheese starts to get cold and stiff, dunk it back into the hot water. Keep stretching, kneading, and dunking until the cheese starts to feel smooth. This can take anywhere from 5-20 minutes.
Form your cheese into a ball, or any other shape you'd like.