Knowing how to make make your own mozzarella is up there with homemade bread, butter and aioli as some of the most dangerous things to know how to make in your kitchen. Not only are they really easy to make, they don’t last long enough on the table to worry about how to store them. In our modern world, mozzarella is so ubiquitous that it never crossed my mind that it would be easy to make and less than half the cost of store bought mozzarella.
You will need a gallon (3.8 litres) of full fat milk to make just about 1.3lbs (590g) of fresh mozzarella. I picked up a gallon of milk for $2.99 and the cheapest fresh mozzarella I could find was about $7 for a pound. Including the other ingredients, it still works out at less than half the price for making your own. Even if you bought a gallon of organic milk it would still be a little bit cheaper than standard mozzarella, and way less than organic mozzarella. Though cost wasn’t the real reason I decided to make my own mozzarella, it was for the challenge, but I was really surprised at how easy the process was. It took me less than 30 minutes to make, but now I now what I’m doing, I think it would take less than 15 minutes to make. This is going to be a really dangerous skill to know.
The only tricky thing to making cheese is finding the other ingredients, rennet and citric acid. Citric acid should be fairly easy to find, but I searched all over town for rennet and couldn’t find it anywhere. You may come across junket rennet, but it isn’t suitable for making cheese, only a type of dessert. Eventually I found a few on-line retailers that sold rennet and bought some Fromase Vegetarian Rennet tablets. Animal rennet is still available if you really want, but the vegetarian version works just as well. Depending on what brand of rennet you buy, will depend on how much you need for each batch of cheese, but the instructions should tell you how much to each per gallon of milk.
How to make Home-made Mozzarella
First gather all your ingredients and utensils.
- 1 gallon (3.8 litres) of whole milk
- 1.5 tsp of powdered citric acid, dissolved in 0.5 cup (120ml) of cold water
- Rennet (I used half of one Fromase 50 rennet tablet), dissolved in 0.25 cup (60ml) of cold water
- Add the citric acid liquid and the milk to a large pan.
- While stirring, slowly bring the temperature up to 95F (35C). The milk may curdle, don’t worry.
- Take the milk off the heat and add the rennet liquid. Stir for 30 seconds to combine and then leave for 5 mins.
- Cut the curds into small sections using a knife.
- Place a colander over a large bowl and using a slotted spoon lift out the curds into the colander. I’ve found it is best to allow the curds to drain for a while, otherwise the next stage of ‘cooking’ the curds may not work at all.
- From the bowl, pour the liquid (the whey) back into the pan. You can get rid of the whey, but there are lots of things you can do with it.
- Heat some water in another pan with lots of sea salt to around 175F (80C) . Place the colander back over the bowl. Pour some of the water over the cheese curds and start to work the cheese first with a spatula and then with your hands.
- The cheese will start to become plastic and stretchy. Keep moulding the mozzarella until it is smooth and shiny. It shouldn’t take too long. You can always pour some more hot water over the cheese to make it plastic again.
- Use your hands to bring the mozzarella together. At this stage you can use it as is or store it in some of the whey liquid in the refrigerator.
- Alternatively you can make it into a long sausage shape, wrap it in plastic wrap and tie off small pieces with string (see below). You can then pop off individual sized portions as needed.
- Technically what I’ve made isn’t mozzarella, but ‘Fior di latte’, which is mozzarella type cheese made from cows milk. Proper mozzarella is ‘Mozzarella di Bufala’, which is made from water buffalo milk.
- Some people say that you can’t make mozzarella from homogenized milk, but I think I’ve proved that you can. I think heating the milk to 95F, encourages the curd to form. However a lot more websites say that you can’t use Ultra Pasteurised milk.
- A lot of proper cheese-makers use a double boiler or a pan in a sink of water to make cheese. I’m sure this is to prevent burning or scalding of the milk. However, I was very careful to increase the temperature of the pan very slowly and it seemed to work okay.
- The smaller you cut the curds, the more whey will be expelled.