The Grandmas got together last month to make homemade mozzarella cheese. (Yes, it has taken me a month to actually create the post)! We came out of the experiment with homemade mozzarella and homemade ricotta... both equally delicious. We learned that finding the ingredients for making cheese can be a bit of a challenge. However, once you have your supplies, the cheese making is easy and the results are worthwhile. We experimented with three types of milk which each yielded unique results. I'll talk about the end product in a minute—but first, let's talk supplies.
The most important element is having fresh milk... Let me say that again, YOU MUST HAVE FRESH MILK!!! If you can find raw milk, that's great. Otherwise, what you want is something that is pasteurized at the lowest possible temperature for a long amount of time. (I compare that concept to that of a slow cooker). I learned that most standard grocery store milk is "flash pasteurized" at a very high temperature for a short amount of time. The temperature is so hot that it wipes out all of that good bacteria that is needed to cultivate a large curd that will essentially form your mozzarella cheese.
Where we bought our milk:
• 365 Whole Milk from Whole foods (not picture here, it WILL NOT WORK!)
If you don't live in Chicago, I suggest trying your local farmer's market or a specialty grocery store.
Where we bought our rennet and citric acid:
• The Spice House carries Citric Acid
• If you have time to wait, you can easily order these items at almost any online cheese supply store.
1 gallon fresh
2 tsp. cirtric acid
1/2 teaspoon liquid rennett
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt (non-iodized, we used kosher salt)
Most of the recipes that we found on the internet were fairly consistent. We weeded through many sources. We're summarizing this process to keep it as simple as possible.
1. Pour milk and citric acid into a stainless steel pan, heat to 88º, stir occasionally.
2. Add rennett and salt, stir gently until temperature reaches 105º (Curds will begin to form!)
3. Remove from heat, let sit for 15 minutes.
4. Pour the curds into a cheese cloth or fine mesh sieve and reserve the whey.
5. Microwave the curds for a minute.
6. Form the melted curds into a mozzarella ball, work the cheese as you would dough.
7. Store mozzarella ball in a container with fresh water in the refrigerator.
TIP: Handling the mozzarella as little as possible in step 6 will yield a smoother and softer cheese. Handling the mozzarella more will yield a stringier and more dense cheese. I like it both ways!
Each gallon of milk created one large ball of fresh mozzarella. At the end of the day, each Grandma left with a large ball of Mozzarella, a container of miniature mozzarella balls, and a serving of fresh ricotta. We found that the Castle Rock Farms Milk and the Farmer's All Natural Creamery Milk produced similar results and turned out great. The color of the whey was slightly different, but the overall taste and texture of the cheese was similar. In the future, I might double the amount of salt we used. The last milk we used was the 365 Whole Milk from Whole Foods—this was a failed attempt. This milk is a pasteurized milk and it will not produce a curd that makes mozzarella. The curds form, but they are very small and this is essentially how we ended up with a few batches of homemade ricotta.
What To Do With The Leftover Whey:
Whatever you do, don't whey-ste it! Leftover whey can be used in baking and in many recipes that call for buttermilk. I've also read that whey makes an excellent plant food, and that if you have pets you can mix it in with their dry food and it is very nutritious. (I can't make promises with the plant/pet methods of using your whey. I don't have any pets and my plants are not well nurtured. I advise a cross-reference here).