Making your own mozzarella FROM SCRATCH is a labor of love. It takes several hours, but is totally worth the cheese you end up with. If you want to pull the curds without going through the process of separating the curds and whey, you can buy the curds by themselves. But, really. What’s the fun in that?
This recipe was featured on The Dairy Episode of The Farm on Public Television.
Fresh, From Scratch Mozzarella Cheese
Makes about 1 pound of cheese
1 gallon whole milk
1 1/8 teaspoon citric acid
1/2 tablet rennet, crushed
1/4 cup warm water
1/3 cup kosher salt
Equipment you’ll need: A large heavy pot; an instant-read thermometer; a colander; cheesecloth; kitchen string
Heat the milk and citric acid to 88°F in a large heavy pot over low heat, stirring occasionally, and maintain a temperature between 88 to 91°F adjusting the heat as necessary, for 1 hour. (The mixture will begin to curdle.)
Dissolve the rennet in the warm water, then stir into milk mixture. Let stand, uncovered, maintaining 88 to 91°F, until the consistency of soft pudding, 15 to 20 minutes.
Using a long knife, make cuts across stiffened milk mixture at 1/2-inch intervals, reaching down to bottom of pot, then make similar cuts in the opposite direction to form a crosshatch pattern. Let stand, undisturbed, 5 minutes. Keeping the temperature between 88 and 91°F, gently stir the curds every 10 minutes for 30 minutes, then let curds stand, uncovered and undisturbed, maintaining temperature, 30 minutes more.
Line a large colander with cheesecloth and set over a bowl and use a rubber band to hold the cheese cloth in place. Using a ladle or slotted spoon, transfer the curds to the cheesecloth. Gather the cheesecloth over curds to form a sack and tie sides together. Suspend the sack from a sink spout so that the whey will drain in the sink. Let hang 3 hours at room temperature.
Heat a large pot of heavily salted water (1/3 cup salt for 5 qt water) to 170°F. Place 1/3 of the curds in a large slotted spoon and dip into the hot water until the curds start to melt together, about 2 minutes. Dip your hands in cold water, then place the curd in your hands. Working over the hot water, gently fold the mass of curds over itself in your hands, stretching as you fold. Reheat in hot water as necessary (3 to 5 times) to maintain temperature, folding and stretching until curds become a smooth and elastic disk.
Form into a ball by tucking outside into center, then pinch edges together. Place the mozzarella in cold water to cool before eating. Make remaining cheese in same manner.