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cream plate with brow rim and speckles with homemade mozzarella cheese drizzled with olive oil and antique silver knife on wood table top

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

A simple, easy, step by step recipe with instructions on how to make your own mozzarella cheese
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Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 1 lb
Author: Erin

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon whole milk avoid ultra pasteurized
  • 1/4 cup water for dissolving rennet, plus another 1/4 cup water for citric acid
  • 1 1/2 tsp citric acid
  • 2 junket brand rennet tablets dissolved in 1/4 cup water or 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet. See note on other brands (or 1/4 tablet other brands )
  • 1-2 tsp salt

Instructions

  • in a large pot, combine citric acid with 1/4 cup water and stir until dissolved.
    copper pot with silver measuring spoons, and jar of citric acid for making mozzarella cheese on a butcher block counter top
  • Add milk, stir, heat to 90 degrees.
  • Stir rennet into water until dissolved.
    box of rennet and cup of water with spoon being stirred in on a wooden surface
  • When the milk and citric acid have reached 90 degrees (use an instant read thermometer) remove from heat, stir rennet (dissolved in 1/4 cup water also), stir until combined, and place a lid on it for 5 minutes. Do not touch or move or remove lid during this time.
    pot of coagulated milk with lid on it and rennet stirred in
  • After 5 minutes, check by putting your finger in and pulling back, this is what people refer to as a "clean break". You want to see the separation of the curds and the thin yellowy liquid (whey). If it does not look separated, let it go for another 5 minutes. Again, don't remove the lid during this final 5 minutes.
    finger dragging through curds and whey to determine if clean break has been achieved
  • Once you get a "clean break", and the curds are nice and solid, cut a criss-cross-like pattern (or "checkerboard like pattern) through the pot, from left to right, and perpendicular to those lines, reaching the knife all the way to the bottom of the pan. Basically, you are just breaking the gelatinous whole into large chunks. Use a knife or offset spatula.
    pot of coagulated milk with demonstrated example of cut checkerboard pattern to break up the curds
  • Return the pan to the burner, and heat to 105 degrees, only barely stirring to disperse heat, and not break up curds. Use an instant read thermometer to determine when the mixture has reached 105 degrees.
    copper pot with lid on it full of coagulated milk for making mozzarella cheese process
  • Using a large slotted spoon, or hand held strainer, transfer the curds to a fine mesh strainer or colander to drain.
    pot of separated curds and whey next to a mesh strainer over a bowl ready to drain
  • Once the whey has drained off, pick up the remaining curds and squeeze a bit more over the bowl, further releasing some liquid, if possible.
    mesh strainer full of curds over a white ceramic bowl full of the strained whey on wood table
  • Bring a large pot of water to almost boiling, but not actually bubbling. Once it looks like it's about to boil (about 180 degrees) remove from the heat. Lower the curds (they should be much tighter at this point) into the hot water. Note: The pot of water should be off the heat source now, this is done on the counter top. (See note for alternative microwaving technique below)
    mesh strainer full of curds being submerged into large pot of hot water for cheese making on a wooden table
  • PUT ON YOUR HEAT SAFE GLOVES. Let the curds stay submerged in the hot water for a few minutes, while also reaching your hand in and squeezing them together to form them together. (Again, you can do this in the microwave if you want, but I prefer the hot water way...either way you have to wear the gloves! See recipe notes for microwave technique)
    heat protective glove covered hand squeezing cheese curds in mesh strainer over hot water for mozzarella cheese making
  • Remove them from the hot water, but keep the pot nearby. Fold and knead the curds together.
    heat safe glove covered hands kneading homemade mozzarella cheese over pot of hot water
  • Stretch it out into a long strand, and fold it back up together into itself, kneading again.
    heat safe glove covered hands stretching homemade mozzarella cheese over pot of hot water
  • Repeat this kneading and stretching for about 15 minutes. Submerge the cheese back into the hot water when it becomes tough and hard to stretch to soften it up and keep going. After about 15 minutes, the cheese should have a little sheen to it and seem very smooth and luscious. Tuck it into a little ball, pinching it neatly underneath itself.
    heat safe glove covered hands stretching homemade mozzarella cheese over pot of hot water
  • Drop it into an ice bath for 5 minutes.
    homemade mozzarella cheese ball in stainless steel bowl ice bath
  • Done! Remove from the water and enjoy your cheese however way you like, or refrigerate for later use. Congratulations!
    cream plate with brow rim and speckles with homemade mozzarella cheese drizzled with olive oil and antique silver knife on wood table top
  • The more you do this, the more comfortable you will become with it. If the first go felt a little clumsy and confusing, just do it a time or two again and you'll feel much more confident. Always make sure you are not using ultra pasteurized milk, or your curds won't even form in the first place.

Notes

Double check that you are not attempting this with ultra pasteurized milk. 
The first time is the hardest, the second time is much easier. After that, you will feel like a pro. Making mozzarella cheese at home is so easy, and so worth it because it's so delicious!
MICROWAVE TECHNIQUE:
YOU MUST START WITH THE STOVE TOP METHOD, THE MICROWAVE ALTERNATE TECHNIQUE COMES INTO PLAY AT THE POINT WHERE YOU WOULD PROCEED HEAT THE WATER TO ALMOST BOILING...BUT YOU CAN DO THIS INSTEAD--
At the point where you heat the pot of water to almost boiling, you could choose to alternatively do this in the microwave. You would instead take the curds and place them in a bowl (pressing and draining out as much liquid/whey as possible) and microwave in 30 second intervals. After each 30 second interval, knead and stretch the dough. Stretch it far, and fold it up like a ribbon again and again, just as you would with the hot water method. Repeat the 30 second microwave burst intervals for a total of 3 times. Stretching and kneading, and draining off the whey as you go. Until you reach the point where (it should have a sheen) you can tuck it into a little ball into itself and give it it's ice bath.