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Monday, July 1, 2013

Making Mozzarella Cheese

Mozzarella is another cheese we have had success making - after a time of trial and error. Frank prefers it over cheddar and we can cook with it or eat it for lunch with deviled eggs and crackers. Mozzarella is a fresh cheese that does not need to be waxed or aged. In fact, it is very good right after you make it.

There are several steps in making mozzarella that are the same as making cheddar. You will find links back to the cheddar cheese post in some of these directions.

This recipe calls for one gallon of milk, but if I am going to do that much work, I want more for the effort. The first time I made it I was very surprised at how little cheese I got from one gallon of milk, so now I use four gallons - the same amount of time with more results.

2 gallons of milk for each pot

We use the same double boiler method we use for cheddar cheese.

The first step is to add 2 1/2 tsp. citric acid powder to 1/2 cup cold water. Stir until dissolved then stir into the cool milk for 30 seconds. 

Slowly heat to 88 degrees stirring occasionally for even heating. Since I have started making mozzarella regularly, I buy my citric acid powder in bulk.

Add 1/2 tsp. of rennet to 1/2 cup of cold water. Stir this into the milk for 10 seconds and let set for 15 minutes to coagulate.

I always think it is neat to see the curd form. It will usually pull away from the side of the pan a little. Sometimes there will be a thin layer of whey on top.

Cut the curd and let it settle to the bottom of the pot and rest for 10 minutes.

Slowly heat the curd to 108 degrees. Then let it sit and 'cook' for 35 minutes keeping the temperature at 108 degrees.
Pour off the whey and let the curd drain in a colander for 15 minutes. It looks good, doesn't it? I usually flip it over a time to two so the whey will drain better. These curds are the same color, but the angle of the picture make them look different.

When you make mozzarella you use a brine made of one quart of cold water and one cup of salt. You can adjust the salt to your taste. It is a lot of salt to use up and pour down the drain, so I tried adding salt to the curd after I poured off the whey. It wasn't near as good as the brine, so I still do it this way. When times get tough and I don't have the salt to spare, I will do away with the brine and just add the salt directly.
 You can put the cheese directly into the bowl with the brine and it will conform to the shape of the bowl. I found that I liked the cheese to have a little more shape, so I use this cheese mold.

Now comes the weird part - stretching the cheese. When I first started making mozzarella, I had no idea how to stretch it. I tried to follow written directions and posted questions at a few places on the internet, but didn't get any responses. So, I just followed the directions the best I could and kind of made up the rest. After a while of trial and error, the cheese started to take on the correct consistency and quit bouncing, I mean chewing, like rubber. 

So..... to stretch the curd, heat some of the whey or water to 160 degrees. (I have always used whey.) You will need two spoons. I use large regular and slotted spoons. I have also read that you can do this step wearing rubber kitchen gloves, but I prefer not to.
Put the curd in the pot of hot whey (one at a time if you are making two batches - the curd from both would be too much to work with). You have to stretch the curd for it to soften and melt when you use it to cook with - like on pizza and in lasagna.
The books describe the consistency of the curd as taffy-like and shiny when you have stretched it enough. The first few times I did this, I had no idea of how long to stretch it and it came out pretty rubbery. It tasted good, but the
consistency was rather chewy. Raise and lower the curd into and out of the whey until it starts to become stringy and sticky like you would expect mozzarella to be. It will take about three to five minutes. Then it is finished.
It is a challenging feat to get the cheese from the pot into the brine without it stretching out and falling off the spoons. I just kind of juggle it over there. At this point you can shape the cheese any way you want - flat, balls, sticks, etc. If you choose smaller pieces the brine
time will be less, or it will be too salty. The cheese will float in the brine which isn't a problem. The first few times I made it into balls and just rolled it over so all sides would have a chance to soak. Now I weigh it down with a glass bowl and let it sit. 
The amount of time you allow the cheese to brine will depend on your personal preference. I have tried 10 minutes, 20 minutes and 30 minutes and have settled on 20 minutes.
When the time is up set the cheese out on a towel to dry, turning it several times to allow the whey to drain out from the wrinkled areas. The better it dries the longer it will keep. Any leftover whey will spoil first.

As the cheese dries it will spread out and flatten. I have tried letting it sit in the cheese mold because I like the shape, but it doesn't allow the cheese to dry well enough.

One batch will go in the refrigerator for fresh eating.

One batch will go in the freezer. Freezing does not affect the quality of this cheese. I wrap it in a paper towel and put it in a freezer bag.

We store up cheese in the summer when our goats' milk production is at it's peak. It's nice to go to our own 'store' to get cheese for that pizza we want to make for dinner. Hmm....that can be another post. Sounds good, doesn't it?

Until next time - Fern


  1. I enjoy making mozzarella cheese too. I use lemon juice instead of citric acid, it turns out really well. I will have to try your stretching technique, I never got a really good technique down.

  2. I'm so glad I found your blog! Color me happy. I'm a city girl who's always wanted to live on a few acres with a few chickens and a garden. Now I can read all about your doing it. Not like doing it myself, but close. Thanks and please keep going - I'm reading.

  3. I used to make mozzarella - would make smaller balls, but I stretch by hand. Would keep a bowl of ice water, stretch the cheese and continually dip hands in water to keep hands from burning. Not most ideal, but I guess I never had the coordination to use spoon-tools. It was just how it was taught to me, mostly.

  4. I am just trying to clarify before I start making my cheese. Are the ingredients listed in this recipe for one gallon of milk or four gallons? I just want to be sure not to mess up and have to throw all this away. Can't wait to try this!!

    1. Hi Cindy,

      The recipe above is for two gallons of milk. The ratio for one gallon is this:

      1 gallon of milk
      1 1/4 tsp. citric acid powder
      1/4 tsp. liquid rennet or 1/8 rennet tablet
      1/2 c. cool water, divided in half

      Good luck! I hope your cheese turns out great.