How to make mozzarella at home

Posted on 17 February 2012

You might remember this post from the New England Cheese Making Supply Company… they liked our ‘How to make brie cheese at home’ post so much they posted it on their site and sent us a Mozzarella & Ricotta kit.  We were so excited to try another type of cheese at home so this post is how we made it. The great thing about making mozzarella is that it’s quite simple, fairly quick and you can eat it straight away!

The following instructions are essentially from the New England Cheese Making Supply Company, with our own notes and experiences added. They have an excellent website for trouble shooting, www.cheesemaking.com, and even have a cheese tech, who can be contacted through their ‘contact us’ page to answer your questions. Check out this page for extra information though. Their kit definitely makes things easy too as it comes with all the ingredients (except milk), a thermometer, muslin and instruction booklet. It’s a great place to start for your first cheese making experience. From their kit we can make 30 large mozzarella cheese balls!!

Choose your milk carefully

First, a word of caution about choosing your milk… you can use cow’s milk or goat’s milk but make sure it hasn’t been ultra heated. The first time we used pasteurised farmer’s milk but we discovered that they over pasteurised it (over 77.5°C), which destroys the milk proteins, and the cheese becomes lumpy instead of silky smooth. We were pretty disappointed to waste that milk but we’ve learnt our lesson and now just use raw milk to be sure. If you want to pasteurise your raw milk yourself just heat it to 62.5°C and cool it quickly before starting the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 3 3/4 L milk
  • 1 1/4 cup cool water (chlorine free)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid
  • ¼ rennet tablet or ¼ teaspoon liquid rennet
  • 1 teaspoon cheese salt (this is optional – you could substitute herbs if you want!)
  

Equipment

  • large pot (stainless steel or non-alumunium or non-cast iron pot)
  • dairy thermometer
  • slotted spoon
  • long knife
  • glass bowl

How to make your mozzarella

We like to prepare everything near to the pot and stove top by doing the following:

  • Pour your milk into your pot and place on the stove top (don’t turn the burner on yet)
  • Put your slotted spoon, thermometer and long knife nearby for easy access.
  • Dissolve the rennet into ¼ cup (62.5ml) of water. Stir and put to the side.
  • Mix the citric acid into 1 cup (250ml) of water until dissolved.

Add the citric acid solution to the milk, stirring vigorously.

Heat the milk to 31°C while stirring (if your milk is pasteurised, heat to 32°C)

Remove the pot from the burner.

Slowly stir in the rennet solution with an up and down motion for approximately 30 seconds (but definitely no longer than 60 seconds – be careful not to stir too long as this will essentially cut the curd as it forms and create the same effect as over pasteurised milk… a lumpy ricotta texture).

Cover the pot and leave it undisturbed for 10 minutes (5 minutes for pasteurised milk).

Check the curd – it should look like custard. Use your hand to gently pull the side of the curd away from the pot to check. If it is too soft, let it set for a few more minutes.

Cut the curd with a long knife that reaches to the bottom of the pot – cut parallel lines in one direction and then cut in rows perpendicular and slightly at an angle to those cuts to create a pattern of squares.

Heat the curd to 41°C while slowly moving the curds around with the spoon.

Remove from the burner and keep stirring slowly for 2-5 minutes. We did ours for 3 ½ minutes. The longer you stir, the firmer the cheese will be. Note: this is where you will realise if the milk has been over heated during pasteurisation. If it has, it will be lumpy and look a bit like cottage cheese. If it hasn’t it will look like soft, silky cubes.

Pour off the floating whey and ladle the curds into the glass bowl, draining as much of the whey as you can without pressing the curds too much.

Microwave the curds for 1minute.

Drain off the whey again, add the salt and gently fold the curds into one piece.

Microwave the curds for another 30 seconds, drain again and stretch the curd. It must be 57°C to stretch properly so if it isn’t hot enough, microwave for another 30 seconds. We had to do this a few times…

Stretch the cheese until it is smooth and shiny – the more you work it the firmer it will be and now is a good time to taste it!

We then formed our cheese into a ball but you can make it a log, braid it or even make small balls which is called Bocconcini – this is what we’ll do next time! We’ll mix them with olive oil, herbs and garlic… yum!! (kind of like our kefir labneh balls)

Then you need to submerge the mozzarella in 10°C water to cool for 5 minutes and then ice water for 15 minutes. This cools it down, helps it keep its shape and protects the silky texture from becoming grainy.

Eating and storing your cheese

We cut slices of tomato and mozzarella and simply drizzled it with olive oil and dressed it with chopped parsley which was delicious!

You can store the cheese in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, stored in an airtight container. Alternatively, you can freeze it and reheat when ready to use.


7 responses to How to make mozzarella at home

  • Christine says:

    Did you pasteurize your milk before you made the mozarella.
    Christine

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hi Christine, We didn’t pasteurise our raw milk beforehand. If you want to pasteurise your raw milk yourself just heat it to 62.5°C and cool it quickly before starting the recipe :)

    [Reply]

  • auristus says:

    This looks amazing! Apologies if you have covered this elsewhere in your blog but what are the pros (if any) and cons of pasteurizing the milk? Is it down to personal preference only?

    keep up the good work!

    a

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hi Auristus, thank you for your comment :)

    A pro of pasteurisation (heating to a specific temperature then immediately cooling) is that it slows microbial growth in food. It aims to reduce the number of viable pathogens so they are unlikely to cause disease (assuming the pasteurised product is stored as indicated and consumed before its expiration date). Pasteurising started in the 1920s to fight diseases caused by poor animal nutrition and dirty production methods. Given the way our dairy cows are kept these days, plus they combine the milk of many animals for your one litre bottle, you can see why pasteurising at the industrial scale is still important. :( Additionally, the big milk producers want to pasteurise milk so that it will keep longer, for mass production, transportation and shelf life. Your ‘fresh’ milk is probably at least days old before you see it. With raw milk, after a few days (at room temperature) it will sour naturally… that’s how we make our cottage cheese! :)

    For raw milk, from small local producers, if the animals are looked after and kept healthy there shouldn’t be a problem. From what I have read, in many cases illness initially attributed to raw milk often ends up being traced to something else… like a non food contaminant.

    The cons of pasteurising are that it doesn’t just kill pathogens, it also destroys the enzyme that enables you to absorb calcium, decreases the vitamin content and kills beneficial bacteria. Also, it kills the lactase enzyme which helps you digest lactose… the reason so many people these days are lactose intolerant!

    The pros of raw milk… From what I’ve read, there are natural disease-fighting enzymes present in raw milk from healthy animals which actually specifically target things like salmonella and listeria. Historically, raw milk was used as a treatment for many illnesses, including chronic diseases such as asthma. Ironically, pasteurisation actually forms histamines which could be a reason people develop asthma or allergies from drinking milk (another con for pasteurisation).

    So… this is really up to each individual to decide for themselves… but it really is worth understanding the pros and cons of pasteurising milk so thank you for asking. :)

    I might try to post this information in the future along with some information about homogenising milk…

    [Reply]

  • elizabeth says:

    Love the idea of this, but do not see the point of using raw milk if one is going to ‘kill’ it in the microwave. :(

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for your comment. You need to heat the curd to around 57degC in order to stretch it properly.

    If you don’t like the idea of using the microwave, you can use the water bath method.

    To do this, heat a pot of water to 85degC. Ladle your curds into colander, folding the curds gently as you drain off the whey. Dip the curds in the colander into the hot water. After several times take a spoon and fold the curds until they start to become elastic and stretchable. This happens when the curd temperature reaches 57degC. (you may want to do half the curds at a time in this step to ensure even heating). When it is stretchable remove the curd from the liquid and pull it. This stretching elongates the proteins. If it does not stretch easily, return it to the hot water for more heat. At this point you can add 1 teaspoon more or less of salt and/or herbs and work it into the cheese. Then you stretch until smooth and shiny… form in to the shape you want… and submerge in water like the other method :)

    [Reply]

  • Donfay11 says:

    I’ve been making mozzarella for over a year now, and never thought of using the microwave! Thanks for the heads up!

    [Reply]

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