There are a lot of recipes for homemade mozzarella floating around out there. From traditional mozza recipes that take literally all day and require constant monitoring of the cheese's pH levels to ensure proper stretching to 30 minute mozza recipes that come together in a flash.
For this month's Cheesepalooza challenge my mom and I wanted to try a recipe that we could succeed at despite being cheese making novices. That ruled out the the all-day mozza marathon or any recipe requiring pH strips.
We decided to use a recipe from A Canadian Foodie's website that not only looked like it made some dreamy mozza, but also came with a ton of tips to help out first time mozza-makers.
The recipe starts out with 4L of non-homogenized milk. I bought 4L of 2% milk and 4L of whole milk so that we could make a batch of each and then conduct taste tests to see which cheese was better. Not because I needed an excuse to eat more cheese, it was in the name of science.
The only other ingredients are citric acid and rennet. The citric acid is diluted in water and put into the pot first. Then the milk is poured into the pot quickly to ensure that the citric acid is mixed in thoroughly. This step ensures that the milk has the proper level of acid which helps the cheese stretch later on.
The rennet is diluted and set aside.
Then we slowly, slowly, SLOWLY, heat the milk to 90 degrees while stirring constantly. This step is what sets the recipe apart from the 30 minute versions because it takes 18-20 minutes just to get the milk to temperature. It's worth it to take it slow and use gentle heat though because it just makes for better cheese in the end.
Once the milk hits 90 degrees the pot gets removed from heat and the diluted rennet is poured in ever so slowly (another great tip from Valerie's recipe) and stirred for 30 seconds.
After a five minute rest the consistency has changed from a liquid to a soft custard which gets sliced into one inch cubes. I'm not sure why but I absolutely love slicing the cheese in the pot, so satisfying.
The pot is put back onto gentle heat and the curds are carefully stirred until the temperature reaches 105. The goal here is to keep the curds as big as possible while gently moving them around to make sure they don't clump together and to distribute the heat.
Gentle heat, gentle handling of the curds = better texture in the cheese.
The temperature on both of our batches kept jumping up and down from 95 to 100 back down to 92 but we eventually made it to 105.
We took our pots off the heat and continued to stir for two more minutes before lading the curds into cheese cloth lined colander to drain. While the whey slowly dripped off the curds we prepared for the next (extremely fun) step: heating and stretching the cheese. We readied ourselves with microwave safe bowls and rubber gloves to handle the hot cheese. This is the part that we had both been looking forward to.
First the cheese is microwaved for one minute and the quickly kneaded to remove excess whey. Then microwaved for 35 seconds and kneaded again.
Finally, it is microwaved another 35 seconds and then kneaded, stretched, and formed into balls of cheese. This is the step that really determines the final texture of the cheese. The more you knead and stretch the cheese the firmer your final product will be.
My mom kneaded the 2% cheese to the texture of string cheese while I briefly worked the whole milk cheese to a softer sliceable ball.
I hadn't added salt during the kneading process (oops) so I just rubbed the outside of the cheese with roughly a teaspoon of kosher salt once it was formed. This worked pretty well but next time (and there will be a next time, did you see how awesome that cheese stretching was??) I'll add the salt during kneading.
The 2% cheese is firmer and peelable like string cheese while the whole milk is softer and has a fattier flavor. Honestly, I couldn't choose which one I like better. I would make either one of them again.
Since we couldn't possibly eat two batches of mozzarella in one day (ok.. I could but shouldn't) we cut up the leftovers into cubes and put them in jars with olive oil, salt, garlic, and basil to marinate. Perfect for snacking on with a couple of cherry tomatoes or to add to salads or sandwiches.
Tasting Notes for Mozzarella:
- Appearance: Soft, White, Milky
- Nose (aroma): faint milky scent
- Overall Taste: subtle and sweet with a milky/fatty finish
- Sweet to Salty: sweet
- Mild (mellow) to Robust to Pungent (stinky): mild
- Mouth Feel: (gritty, sandy, chewy, greasy, gummy, etc.): Extremely soft and silky
60 Minute Mozzarella
(from A Canadian Foodie)
4 Litres of non-homogenized milk (either 2% or whole milk)
1 1/2 tsp citric acid
1 cup cool unchlorinated water
1/4 tsp liquid rennet
1/4 cup cool unchlorinated water
1 tsp kosher salt
6-8 L pot
measuring spoons and cups
Thermometer (important! this cheese will only be a success if you monitor it's temperature)
Bowl of ice water
1. Thoroughly wash all of the tools that you will be using to make the cheese in hot soapy water. Air dry.
2. Dissolve the citric acid in the 1 cup cool water. Dissolve the liquid rennet in the 1/4 cup cool water. Set the rennet aside
3. Pour the citric acid into the bottom of the pot and then pour the milk on top of it. Pour very quickly to help the citric acid combine completely with the milk. Give it a couple of stirs and then turn the heat onto low
4. Slowly Slowly heat the milk to 90F while stirring constantly. Check the temperature of the milk from time to time to ensure that it is not warming up too quickly. This step took us 20 minutes.
5. Once the milk hits 90F remove the pot from heat and slowly pour in the rennet. Stir the milk for another 30 seconds and then STOP STIRRING (it really helps to use an iphone or microwave timer for that step).
6. Cover the pot and let the milk sit for five minutes. After five minutes check and see if you get a clean break. The milk should be the consistency of custard and when you slice a bit of it clear/yellowish whey should show through. If it doesn't, then let it sit for 5 minutes more and check again.
7. Cut the curd using a long knife into one inch cubes. Place the pot back over gentle heat and stir very carefully until the curds reach 105. Try to keep the curds as big as possible. The temperature may go up and down at this time but don't take it off the heat until it reaches 105.
8. Once the curds have reach 105F remove the pot from heat and continue to stir for 2 more minutes (helps to use a timer). Then scoop the curds into a cheese cloth lined colander to drain. Gently press on them to help get rid of the extra whey.
9. Transfer the curds to a microwave safe bowl, put your rubber gloves on, and microwave the cheese for one minute. Knead the warm cheese quickly and pour off any expelled whey.
10. Microwave the cheese again for 35 seconds, knead, and pour off the whey.
11. Microwave the cheese for the last 35 seconds. Sprinkle with salt. Stretch it, knead it, and form it into a ball. For soft cheese only knead it briefly during this step. For peelable, grateable cheese stretch it out a few times.
12. Drop the cheese in a bowl of ice water to firm up
The cheese is best enjoyed the day it is made. If you can't eat it all then you can store it in the fridge in brine, oil, (or a sandwich bag if you plan on eating the rest the next day)
My mom and I are on a year long cheese making adventure along with the other Cheesepalooza participants. We are working out of Artisan Cheese Making At Home by Mary Karlin and will not be posting her recipes for the cheese online. You can join Cheesepalooza at any time!