Making Fresh Mozzarella


Fresh mozzarella, drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with herbs and garlic salt.

The very first time I attempted to make cheese, it was mozzarella. I bought a cheesemaking kit with the supplies and instructions to make mozzarella and ricotta, both considered beginner cheeses. I was particularly enticed by the mozzarella. We love mozzarella here! Friends Missy and Pete came over that day–Missy was interested in learning to make cheese, too. I even talked Missy into handling the mozzarella because I’m a wussy and mozzarella is hot. I didn’t want to handle it. Trouble was, neither one of us had ever made cheese before and we had no idea what we were doing. (You should have seen us studying the mozzarella like it was an unknown object under a microscope.) We made the worst mozzarella in the history of mozzarella! It was…hard. And….kinda gross. But hey, we separated curds from whey. Sometimes, that’s enough.

Enough to make you quit making cheese for a couple months, which is what I did. My next cheese attempt was ricotta–after I had a hands-on, live and in-person demonstration. All righty! Back to cheese! But not mozzarella. I languished in mozzarella mortification. Ricotta is truly an easy first-timer cheese. I also find cream cheese to be so simple and straightforward, a first-timer would be well advised to try it.

Mozzarella? I’m not so sure I agree with it as a first-timer cheese. I make cheese quite frequently now. I’ve made all sorts of soft cheeses and I’ve even started making hard cheeses. Mozzarella is a soft Italian cheese made with a pulled-curd method with the curds at a very high temperature. (This is what makes mozzarella stretchy.) While this is not a particularly difficult process (like, say, compared to brain surgery), when you put it on top of just figuring out how the heck to make cheese in the first place, well, I think it’s a little much for some beginners. (Me, specifically.) There’s only so much information your brain can hold at once and if you’re still in the stage where you’re going, “OHMYGOD, are those CURDS?!” then I don’t think you’re ready for mozzarella and the addition of some unique steps it requires beyond basic cheesemaking.

I came back to mozzarella with plenty of cheesemaking experience behind me, determined to tackle it once again, focusing on what is unique in the mozzarella process. I have a foundation of understanding basic cheesemaking. I was pretty sure where the foul-up had occurred the first time around–in those unique mozzarella steps–and I knew I had the confidence now to make the cheese work. I’ve had “near” cheese failures a few times, and I’ve learned how to take corrective action, recognize the signs of a cheese going wrong, and avert disaster, recovering a cheese to success. Making cheese is like anything else–practice, practice, practice. If you truly desire to have wonderful homemade cheese, just keep trying. Your cheeses will get better all the time. (Similar to learning to make bread.)

There are a couple of different ways to make mozzarella (and yes, you can even make it with goat milk), but the method I’m going to post here is the simplest. This cheese is best made with farm-fresh or local milk, either slow pasteurized (at 145 degrees for 30 minutes) or used raw. If you’re using pasteurized store-bought milk, add 1/2 teaspoon calcium chloride directly to the milk when you put it in the pot. Do NOT use ultra-pasteurized milk.

This 30-Minute Mozzarella recipe comes Ricki Carroll at New England Cheesemaking.

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How to make 30-Minute Mozzarella:

1/2 teaspoon calcium chloride (only if using store milk)
1 1/2 level teaspoons citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
1 gallon whole milk
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 (recommended, 1 teaspoon)

*Do not add lipase if using milk from the store. It will make your curds too soft.

Step 1. If using store milk, add the 1/2 teaspoon calcium chloride directly to the milk when you put it in the pot. While stirring the milk constantly, add the citric acid solution.

Step 2. Begin heating the milk, continuing to stir, until it reaches 90 degrees.

Step 3. Stir in the diluted lipase. Mix thoroughly then stir in the diluted rennet with an up-and-down motion. If using raw milk, continue heating (stop stirring) the milk to 100-105. Turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes before transferring to a bowl.

If using store-bought milk, after adding the rennet at 90, turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Check the curd. If it’s too soft, let it sit a few more minutes. Cut the curd into 1-inch squares with a knife that reaches the bottom of the pot. Place the pot back on stove and heat to 105 while stirring slowly. Take it off the heat and continue stirring slowly for 2-5 minutes before transferring to a bowl.

Step 4. Scoop out the curds with a big slotted spoon and put them in a microwavable bowl. I used a 2-quart glass bowl with a pour spout. You’ll still have a lot of whey mixed in with the curds. The curds will be soft, yogurt-like.

Press on the curds with the spoon, pouring off the whey. As the curds sit in the bowl and you press on them, more and more whey will come out. Keep pouring it off.

Step 5. Put the bowl of curds in the microwave and heat on High for 1 minute. Take the bowl out and work the curds as if you are making bread dough, folding it over and over, gently kneading it. You could use rubber gloves to do this (the cheese will be very hot!) or a sturdy spoon. I don’t like rubber gloves much, and I’ve found a sturdy spoon works just fine. If there’s more whey (and there will be), pour it off. Heat the bowl again, on High, this time for 35 seconds. Pour off any excess whey again. Knead it, with rubber gloves or using a spoon. Heat it again, for 35 seconds, on High. If there’s still any extra whey, pour it off.

By this time, you should have all the excess whey out. Add cheese salt to taste and knead in. How do you know when it’s done? When the cheese is smooth and shiny, and most important–stretchy.

You can slice it warm and eat it right away, or put it away it to use later. For the smoothest texture, put the cheese immediately in a bowl of ice water for 20-30 minutes to chill it down quickly then drain it and use or store in the fridge.

Fresh mozzarella takes under an hour from start to finish, making it a very quick cheese–and it’s delicious! If you’re feeling frisky, I don’t want to scare you off from trying mozzarella as a beginner, though that just didn’t work for me. Whether you try it right away–or ramp up some experience on some other soft cheeses and then come back to it–mozzarella is worth it. I promise you will love it! (It makes mozzarella from the store taste like cardboard.)

Note: Why the microwave? It’s the quickest, simplest way to get the curds hot enough to stretch. If you don’t have a microwave or just don’t want to use a microwave, after removing the curds from the whey, heat the pot of whey to 175-degrees, stirring in 1/4 cup of cheese salt. Place the curds in a strainer and dip them down into the hot whey then transfer them to a bowl to knead–following the same process as when using a microwave.

Repeatedly heating the curds, kneading, heating the curds, kneading, etc. In this case, you’re heating the curds by dipping them into hot whey instead of putting them in the microwave, which is a more authentic method. I’ve tried this. It works, but it takes longer and is a little more trouble as you have to keep transferring from the strainer to the bowl etc. (Up to you! I recommend using the microwave the first time. Try the dipping in whey route after you have a little more experience.)

Try a ball of fresh mozzarella on a plate drizzled with olive oil and Italian herbs. Drizzle more olive oil and herbs on top. (I like a little garlic salt, too.) This is a complete meal. (In my opinion.)

See this recipe at Farm Bell Recipes for the handy print page and save it to your recipe box.

See all my cheesemaking posts.

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  1. Hrist says:

    Here I was all set to tell you off for posting a microwave-only recipe (since I don’t have a working microwave) and you go and cut off my rant before it begins! I love your step-by-step pictures – so easy to follow!

  2. Julie Wriston says:

    I am addicted to the idea of making cheese now. I love these post!!

  3. carsek says:

    That looks so easy! I can’t wait for my goat to start milking again. So what is the citric acid? Is that something you have to special order from a cheese supplier?

  4. CATRAY44 says:

    I am really excited to try this, Suzanne! You make things I always thought were really difficult,easy!

  5. Runningtrails says:

    Wow! oh wow! I have to make this! You make it look and sound so easy!! Thank you so much for the great pics and directions. First I have to use up all the cheese I already have, and I have a lot. I didn’t know I have a large unopened pkg in the frige and bought a lot more. When its gone, I will definately make mozarella!

  6. CindyP says:

    You make it look soooo easy!!!! :woof: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Would ascorbic acid work the same as citric acid? I didn’t see much difference in the descriptions……..I have ascorbic acid for the dough enhancer!

    And this would be sooo much better if you had a cow to milk! 😉 How’s that coming??? or a goat!

  7. NorthCountryGirl says:

    I want to try making cheese. I agree with the others, you do make it seem easy. This is definitely on my list of things to try. Thanks for the step-by-step directions. Can’t get any plainer than that.

  8. CindyP says:

    Do you use the liquid rennet in all of your cheeses? No need to order tablets right?

  9. Anke says:

    I just made goats cheese this past Saturday for the first time and this sounds easy enough for me to try and attempt next. Where did you get all your cheese making supplies and the rennet? As always, I learn a lot from you and I’m glad I found your blog.

  10. Laura says:

    Suzanne—-how much cheese did you get from the gallon of milk? I am always figuring out costs, and am curious how it works out against the cost of store cheese (even though taste wise there would be no comparison).

  11. KentuckyFarmGirl says:

    Where do you get citric acid? I can’t wait to try this. I think I need to start practicing with bought milk so I’ll be really good at it when we get our milk goat.

  12. Susan at Charm of the Carolines says:

    You make it look so easy! And delicious!


  13. CindyP says:

    I found the answer for citric vs ascorbic acid! Use citric…… it is standardized. (Like using bottled lemon juice vs fresh lemon juice in canning).

  14. LauraP says:

    A few differences from my mozzarella technique, but as you said, there are many ways. I do prefer the microwave for that last stage, or even hot water vs. whey because I’ve found the cheese holds better. Not an issue if you’re using it right away, but I start with 4 gallons of fresh whole milk and end up with good-sized block of cheese.

  15. Euni Moore says:

    Yum. Homemade mozzarella, tomatoes and basil from the garden in the summer. What could be better. Thanks for the precise directions.


  16. Amy - Citygirl says:

    Ah, there’s the mozzarella post. :eating: yummy.

    I’ll have to try this.

  17. Emily says:

    How did you know I was just about to make this? I’ve been prepping and reading and researching and I was finally ready to start getting my supplies together. I have to say….your post…of all of them on the internet and in books, is the simplest most concise directions. It takes the mystery away.

    A question….can you use lemon juice for the citric acid?

  18. Nic, SD says:

    Emily – I was totally wondering about the lemon juice thing as well!

    Suzanne – This looks SOOOOO good… it has really given me a hankering to (at least) try out one of the easy easy ones, like the cream cheese.

  19. Michele Messier says:

    Looks good. You made it seem easy. I love mozzarella too! :shimmy: :shimmy: :shimmy: :shimmy: :shimmy: :shimmy: :shimmy:

  20. mommy6_1 says:

    You have inspired me Suzanne. I’m making yoogurt as I post this. Next is homemade dog treats. I pick up my pork fat Thurday and just bought a herdshare for cow’s milk and will be picking up some organic eggs there also. Today, I will be ordering my cheese making kit.

    It must be in the genes. Both sides of my family are from Randolph and Tucker Co. WV for over two hundred years.

    Chickens may be next but I live on Main St. and don’t know how the neighbors would feel about chickens in my back yard.

    Thanks Bunches,

    Connie, OH

  21. Tovah says:

    Wow that looks so good! I love fresh mozzarella! I’m not sure I’ll be tackling making it myself but it is interesting to see how it is done.

  22. Brenda (Prairie Daisy Handspun) says:

    It looks delicious! Does it get hard enough when it’s cold to shred, like for pizza?

  23. Megan says:

    Oh I am so glad you said that about the rennet tablets. I tried making cheese last year and failed utterly, but I was using rennet tablets from the grocery store. I suspect that in addition to tablets being a general pain to use that they had been sitting there for years and were probably no good anymore. But at the time I had been so excited and was crushed when I couldn’t make even a basic soft cheese. You have inspired me to try again, and as a crafty/foodie/cheese-lover I can’t wait!

  24. Hallie says:

    I see a caprese salad in your future…when the tomatoes are ripe, of course.

  25. Mary from Baton Rouge says:

    Suzanne you have once again peaked my interest. First the soap making, then the knitting, and now the cheese making. Where do you find the time to do each of these tasks? I have now put cheese making on my list of skills to master in 2010!

    Thanks for your posts. I look forward to reading your blogs each day!

  26. kerri says:

    It looks so creamy and delicious. Your directions and lovely photos certainly make it look doable. Yum! :hungry:

  27. Leanne says:

    We have Jersey cows here, and I’m wondering if their high fat buttermilk would be okay for this recipe? I am sooo interested/scared to try something like this since we have lots of great fresh milk here, but have yet to dive in. This post makes me want to try it!!!

  28. Yolanda says:

    Thank you SO much for posting this! I have taught myself to make cheddar from our goat milk, but had not lyet learned to make mozzarella and could not find a good recipe until now. Bless you!

  29. Eliza says:

    Oh my gosh! Those cheese and cracker photos make me want to leap through the computer to eat them. Way to go!

  30. claudia w says:

    I just wanted to let you know that I received the soap making book in the mail yesterday. I have read through over half of it already! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  31. Laura says:

    Great post! We are planning to get goats in the future and hope that we are able to make cheese.

  32. Diana H says:

    Is it ok to use the kosher/veggie rennet or does it need to be the regular? Do you know if there is a difference in taste of the final product? I noticed that the cheesemaking site you gave sells both types of rennet.

  33. debbie says:

    …said it yesterday, but I’ll say it again. I LOVE your website! Talked with my SIL tonight. She is coming for a visit next week and requested lasagna for dinner. I have made ricotta several times, but have never attempted mozarella. Thought I would try it and see what happens…waalaah – here is a recipe! The only thing I don’t have is the citric acid. I see you don’t recommend substituting until you are familiar with cheese-making. Let’s assume I was familiar…what could I substitute? hehe. I really can’t afford to order anything at the moment. THANKS A MILLION!

  34. Kathry says:

    What a great recipe! I was able to take your wonderful instructions and pictures and make some fresh cheese tonight—my first time, I doubt it will be my last. It looks and tastes wonderful. Now if I can only figure out what to do with all the whey, we will be in fine shape. I used vegetable rennet and it worked fine. Thanks again.

  35. Abiga/Karen says:

    Ugh, just tried to make mozzarella and I am so happy yours did not come out at first because mine sure didn’t. I was so disappointed. It was so dry and I also forgot the salt so forget taste then. I saw someone make it but never saw the end result so I was not quite sure what to expect. They made theirs with goat’s milk too. Oh well back to the drawing board with the ricotta first next time.

  36. tammy says:

    has anyone ever tried this without using the citric acid?

  37. Mandy says:

    I made this and it never got soft and gooey looking after I nuked it. I re nuked it and kneaded it about 2o times and it just got harder and crumblier each time. It turned into gravel. What did I do wrong?

  38. Sheila says:

    I have a stock pot that I bought awhile back , I don’t know if it’s stainless steel or not though. would that be ok to use or does it have to be stainless steel? I’d like to try the ricotta cheese sometime before I do the mozzeralla (sp?).

  39. Sheila says:

    Do you use the animal or vegetable rennet for ricotta and mozzarella?

  40. Pam says:

    I bought a book on how to make cheese-no idea where I put it. I am lactose intolerant and wanted to make some cheese that I could actually eat. It seems as though most cheeses require lactose in the way of heavy cream, etc. I really miss cream cheese and ricotta cheese. I am going to look through your recipes and see if I can figure anything out.

    I heard that goat milk cheese is often more tolerated, but no source for that.

  41. Nina Roberts says:

    Dear friend, I feel like I know you. I love your recipes

    and everything you teach us to do. This cheese sound sooooo good can not wait till I try it, yummy, yummy. Where can I buy citric acid? Thank you for sharing your ideas and recipes with us. Nina from California

  42. Heather says:

    We have a dairy farm with access to whole un-homogenized and unpasteurized milk and I have tried this numerous times. I think I am getting it done right (I am making mozzarella sticks) and then when I put them in the fridge in a ziploc bag overnight, they sort of melt into a big blob. Mine really never seem dry at all. What is happening?

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Heather, I’ve never had that happen to me, so I’m not sure. A possibility might be that you’re not heating and stretching it enough? I’m just not sure. It shouldn’t go soft like that. It sounds like there’s still whey in it.

  43. Cheryl says:

    I made my first mozzarella this week, it was smooth and shiny and delicious! I attribute the success to the fact that I slooowly heated the milk to 88 degrees. I was working from the recipe on and it wasn’t specific on how slowly to heat the milk, so (being nervous about the whole thing) I increased the temp by less than one degree per minute. It took forever but the curds turned smooth and shiny after their first minute in the microwave, so maybe the slow heating was the trick? I am going to make another batch today, but this time heat it more quickly and see if there is a difference. Also, I ate my cheese with olive oil and fresh crushed garlic-WOW! You’re right, it’s wonderful 🙂

  44. justdeborah2002 says:

    So I made mozzarella for the first time…it seemed to turn out ok…BUT…
    when I followed instructions to the T, I only got about 4 ounces of cheese from a gallon of milk. So I thought, I’m going to try something….
    I used the remaining 3/4 of the rennet tablet on the leftover milky whey in the pot, and wooo hooo, that worked like a charm. The temp was at 120* though…but it curd-ed up beautifully. So I kept working it.
    (I figured it wouldnt hurt, since I would just throw the milky whey out as a failure anyhow)
    I ended up getting about 12 ounces of mozza out of the gallon of milk.
    So, any idea on why I had to do the second go round? Perhaps the rennet was older, losing potency (is that an issue?) or perhaps I’m just an idiot!
    But thank you for giving the courage to try new things!

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