It’s been a while since I’ve written about mozzarella. I make more mozzarella cheese than anything else, and at this point, I’ve taught as many people to make mozzarella as people who have milked Glory Bee. Which numbers in the hundreds. (I always tell workshop attendees not to worry when they try to hand milk her, she’s not interested in what’s going on back there, she’s eating her big breakfast, and she’s been milked by hundreds of people. She doesn’t care.) Over the years, I’ve changed and refined how I make mozzarella. I’ve had lots of mozzarella discussions with LauraP (my co-teacher in big cheese workshops). She’s made little changes over the years in how she makes her mozzarella, too, which made me feel more confident about creating my own version. Everyone has their own way, and the beauty of the cheesemaking journey is discovering your way–and that it’s okay to deviate from the basic recipe.
Today, when I make mozzarella for myself–and when I teach workshop attendees–this is how I do it. This version creates a very tender, flavorful soft mozzarella that is like the “fresh mozzarella” you may find in some stores or restaurants.
If using goat’s milk, please read notes at the end of this post.
1 1/2 level teaspoons citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
1 gallon whole milk, raw or lightly pasteurized (145 degree pasteurization)
1/4 teaspoon lipase powder (Italase) dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water (for 20 minutes prior to using)*
1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool, unchlorinated water
cheese salt to taste (I use kosher salt)
*Lipase is optional, but it adds flavor that makes cow milk taste more like a mild goat milk. Do not use if making cheese with goat milk.
First, go milk your cow.
Pour a gallon of milk into a large pot and add the citric acid solution. Begin heating the milk, continuing to (gently) stir, until it reaches 90 degrees. Stir in the diluted lipase. Mix thoroughly then stir in the diluted rennet with an up-and-down motion. Continue heating (but STOP stirring) the milk until the temperature reaches 100-105. You’ll feel the milk thickening against the thermometer when you move it, and start to see the cheese pulling away from the sides of the pot, revealing the whey.
Turn off the heat, put on the lid, and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to a microwaveable bowl using a large slotted spoon.
I use a glass two-quart bowl with a pour spout.
Alternative method: Reheat the cheese in hot whey instead of the microwave. See end of this post for more information on this method.
To follow the microwave method: Pour off as much whey as possible, using the spoon or your hands to hold back the curds. Reserve enough whey for the brine at the end. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat for 60 seconds.
Remove the bowl from the microwave and pour off whey. Gently fold the cheese over and knead lightly. Pour off more whey, then heat in the microwave again for 30 seconds. Pour off whey and repeat the gentle folding and light kneading, once. Pour off whey. Sprinkle half a tablespoon cheese salt over the cheese. Fold and knead. Sprinkle another half tablespoon cheese salt, fold and knead once more.
Pick up the cheese with your hands, form into a ball, and place in a plastic container large enough to hold the cheese. (A 16-ounce container works.)
Pour reserved whey over the ball of cheese, enough to cover it.
Sprinkle another teaspoon to half tablespoon of cheese salt into the whey in the container, to suit your taste. This creates a whey brine that adds back tons of flavor into the cheese. (Yes, I know it seems odd to go to all that trouble to get whey out then put it back in. It works. Trust me.)
Put on the lid and place the cheese in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours. When you take it out, you will have the softest, most tender and flavorful mozzarella you’ve ever tasted! Remove the ball of cheese from the whey and drain on paper towels for a few minutes then it’s ready to eat. Great for everything from pizza and lasagna and grilled cheese to just eating all by itself!
And now I can stop pointing workshop attendees to my outdated mozzarella post, but it does include directions for making mozzarella with store-bought milk. If using store-bought milk, look here for some additional information that might be helpful.
Hot whey method: Not using the microwave makes a more tender result, and is more authentic, old-fashioned. For this method, after the cheese has set, ladle curds into a bowl lined with a square of cheesecloth. Reheat the whey to about 175 degrees, adding salt to the pot. Lift up the cheese in the cheesecloth and dip down into the hot whey for 15-20 seconds. Remove from the whey, placing the cheese in the cheesecloth back down into the bowl. Fold and knead (gently! gently!), releasing whey. Pour whey back into the hot whey pot and dip the cheese again. Repeat these steps until the cheese has released much of the whey and is stretchy and melty. Salt the cheese in the final stages. Form cheese into a ball and cover with water or whey and refrigerate–or eat immediately. (There’s nothing so good as warm mozzarella!)
Note: All photos in this post are the property of Rick Hutchinson.
If using goat’s milk: Goat’s milk typically makes a softer curd than cow’s milk, and is also subject to greater variables in acidity levels over the course of a goat’s lactation cycle. DO NOT use lipase powder if using goat’s milk. (Lipase powder can make a softer curd. Goat’s milk has more flavor than cow’s milk anyway so you don’t need it.) DO use calcium chloride–as much as 1 teaspoon per gallon of milk. Calcium chloride helps in setting a curd. Add the calcium chloride at the beginning, when the milk goes in the pot. DO experiment with using less citric acid. Acidity levels vary, so you will have to experiment with your own goat, and may find that her levels change over her lactation cycle (just to make things more difficult). If you can’t make a curd using the normal amount of citric acid, try reducing it by half or even by two-thirds. Use the normal amount of rennet. It’s the citric acid that often interferes in setting a curd in goat’s milk.