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Friday, November 22, 2013

How to Make Mozzarella Cheese

Homemade mozzarella is a fantastic cheese for beginners. It only requires milk, salt, citric acid and rennet. No special starter cultures or bacteria or equipment required.

Mozzarella Cheese

Cost per recipe: $3.54

1 gal. milk
1/4-1/2 tsp. Calcium Chloride (for store-bought milk)
1 1/4 tsp. Citric Acid Powder
1/4 tsp. liquid rennet or 1/8 rennet tablet
1/2 cup cool water, divided in half

 In stainless or enamel pot, place the cool milk. Dissolve the citric acid powder into 1/4 cup water and add to the milk (also add calcium chloride if using store bought milk). Stir well. Bring milk to 88 degrees. Mix rennet with the other 1/4 cup water and stir for 10 seconds.

Rennet & Citric Acid
Allow milk to set at 88 degrees for 15 minutes to coagulate [translation: make a big rubbery mass]. It helps to use a timer. After setting, the curd should be firm and when you dip your finger into the curds they will break cleanly over your finger. Whey will fill the depression where your finger has been. Cut into 1-inch cubes. This allows more whey to be released. Allow curds to rest for 10 minutes.
Cutting the curd.

Boil a teapot full of water to prepare for the next step.

Place the post of curds into a sink of very hot tap water and slowly bring the temperature up to 108 degrees. Save teapot of hot water in case you need to add additional water later. Curds will shrink during this process. Keep the curds around 108 degrees for about 35 minutes. [ I don't follow this to a T- I just bring it to 108, put it in the sink of hot water and let it sit.] Drain curds into colander for 15 minutes. You can save the whey with a bowl underneath.
Keeping it warm in the sink.

Draining the curds.

The curds must now be worked and stretched in a brine solution (2-3 oz. salt + 1 quart water).

Stretching like taffy!
Heat liquid to 150 degrees, more or less. Place curds into heated brine. Work quickly. ["Quickly" is a scary word, but don't panic. Just focus on pulling and stretching and not leaving too much in the pot to melt. It will take some time to get it stretchy- I find that soaking it in the brine for a few seconds before stretching can be helpful.] Using two sets of salad tongs (or spoons, or whatever you have), bring the curds out of the brine, pulling and stretching like you would taffy. When it's cooled down some, I just use my bare hands. It's still hot but I have more control that way.
Stretched and pulled- ready for cooling.
Once you have stretched and worked all the curds, place in mold (dish) to form a block. This cheese will become hard enough to grate. I try to let mine cool in a longish rope, so I can peel it apart like string cheese. So much fun.

Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.


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