Friday night I had the pleasure of visiting the Bountiful Baskets coordinator for our pick-up location with my oldest step-son, where we learned how to make Mozzarella Cheese. Out coordinator, Anne, has done more than 40 batches for herself, and had some pointers to help us to get started on our way. They say, the best way to learn is to teach, so let’s see how I do at teaching you!
Before I get carried away, I want to thank Anne for her help in teaching us, and showing us her chickens and excellent garden. Every thing we can do to live well for a little less, or to live in a way that we are self reliant is always welcome in our home! The method Anne taught us is a basic Mozzarella method, that will serve as a stepping stone to even more experiences with cheese, and it required only some basic supplies and tools! Best of all, it was complete the same evening!
1 Gallon Whole Milk (Low Temp pasteurized, standard in the milk department, not high temp UHT!)
Heavy Whipping Cream (Optional, & Helpful!)
Chlorine Free Water
Pot and Lid
Rubber Gloves (or very clean, stout hands!)
Thermometer (Not a candy thermometer!) with a minimum range of 95 degrees F
A Sharp, Long Knife
Any container to shape your finished cheese into for a basic block, to the size of about one quart.
A Tuffet (Totally Optional!)
With all these items to hand, you are ready to get started!
- Dissolve 1/4 of the Rennet Tablet in 1/4 cup of cool chlorine free water. (1/4 teaspoon if you have liquid rennet.)
- Store excess rennet in your freezer, wrapped in plastic wrap.
- Mix 1 1/2 teaspoons Citric Acid in a 1/4 cup of cool chlorine free water to make a citric acid solution.
- Pour 1 gallon milk into pot, then stir vigorously while adding your newly made citric acid solution. (You may opt to add 1/4 cup of Heavy Whipping Cream Now, which will affect your curd result in step 12 below!)
- Slowly heat the milk to 90 degrees F while stirring. The idea here is to be precise and to prevent scalding!
- When the milk reaches exactly 90 degrees F throughout, remove it from the hob and while stirring with your wooden spoon in an up and down motion through the center of the pan, stir in the rennet solution, making sure that any small dissolved bits are swirled out of the container and into the pan. This process should take about 30 seconds while pouring the rennet solution slowly!
- Cover the pot and let stand for five minutes undisturbed.
- After five minutes your gallon of milk with citric acid and rennet solutions will have separated into curds and whey! (This is when you might want to stop the whole show and sit on your Tuffet!) Otherwise, continue by pulling at the curd at the top from the side of the pan with your spoon to verify that it has a clear separation between it (the custard like white substance at the top) and the whey, which looks more or less like lemonade below. If the top curd, which should have the consistency of custard, is too soft, and the whey too milky below, then let it stand for a few minutes more.
- Cut the curd with a knife in diamond shapes while holding the knife at an 45 degree angle to one side or the other. Be sure the tip of the knife reaches all the way to the bottom of the pot!
- Heat the curd on the stove again while stirring slowly to only move the curd around a bit till the temperature reaches 105 degrees F.
- Remove from the burner and continue stirring for two to five minutes more.
- Put on your gloves or wash your hands and rinse well, then with your hands, pull at the curd, gathering it on the side closest you, and keep pulling your hands through the whey, gathering the curd on the side of the pot closest you. If you added the 1/4 cup of Heavy Whipping Cream in step 4 above, then your curd will tend to be larger, and easier to gather. This will result in it also being easier to drain in the next few steps, and it will make the final cheese product a bit creamier and softer in the end.
- Now get your cheese cloth and colander. You have a choice to either put a pan under the colander to catch the whey or set the colander in the sink and let the whey drain away. Whichever case, put the cheese cloth across the top of the colander and strain the whey from the curd. Now hang the cheese cloth above the pan so that the remaining whey can drain from it and let it hang for about an hour, till the whey is thoroughly drained.
- Open the cloth and put the curd into the clean bowl, and using the rubber scraper, remove all the curd possible from the cloth into the bowl.
- Add some salt to taste, usually about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon to the curd in the bowl.
- Place the bowl in the microwave and run on high for about one minute.
- Remove the bowl, drain off any whey, and fold the curd over onto itself much like you are kneading bread.
- Microwave again for about 30 seconds.
- Remove and drain any more whey.
- You may need to microwave it one more time for a few seconds. You are looking for a smooth consistency much like taffy.
- Remove and stretch or knead your cheese. the more you work it, the more firm it will be.
- Place the cheese into your quart container to shape it as it cools, or you can form it into a log by rolling it out flat, then roll into a log like you are making cinnamon rolls. In fact, you may want to add seasons to taste on one side when it is flat, then roll it over into a log!
- If you put the cheese into a container (you may opt to pour some of the whey over it to help keep it fresh) cover it and put it into the fridge! If you made a log, plunge it into ice water to help it hold its shape and to prevent it from becoming grainy, then remove it, cover it, and refrigerate it.
Congratulations! You just made Mozzarella Cheese! You can wrap it airtight and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks, or freeze it for later use!
Important Editor’s Not: I was going to put in a photo of the cheese after it was complete, but I was so excited about it that I ate it before I could photograph it! Watch for more cheese photos in articles to come when we make more cheese!
I hope you find this as enjoyable as I have! Who knew there was a block of cheese floating around in every gallon of whole milk in our fridge?
The Prospering Peasant