When my editor assigned me this DIY blog I figured, No problem. I was ready to tackle this project and impress friends with my cheese making skills. “What is that smell?” people would ask. “Why it’s that aged artisanal cheese that girl is holding! Did you make it yourself?” Indeed I did. “Astonishing!”
But then, pages of renneting, ripening, and brining, made me wonder, What in the name of Brie did I get myself into? I was never the kid who made friendship bracelets on the playground and Lego bricks looked more like candy than robot pieces. Me make cheese? Who was I kidding?
I was tempted to dump my unfound cheese making dreams down the drain until I was introduced to cheese makers of all levels in the blogosphere. Eventually I discovered less daunting cheese recipes that even I could handle.
And so, with a relieved sigh, I began my escapade into cheese making with homemade mozzarella.
DIY HOMEMADE MOZZARELLA
This mozzarella is easy to make and reminds me of my childhood (specifically string cheese and Stretch Armstrong). Special thanks to Robin, DIY-er at Our Semi Organic Life, for sharing her photos and recipe.
Makes 1 pound fresh mozzarella
- 1 gallon whole milk
- 2 teaspoons citric acid*
- ½ rennet tablet*
- ¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Nonreactive pot (not aluminum or cast iron)
- Thermometer (preferably digital)
- Slotted spoon
- Cheese cloth
Step 2: Heat the Milk
Pour the milk into the pot and then add the citric acid. Put the stove on medium-low heat. Dissolve the rennet tablet in water and stir. Using the thermometer, wait until the temperature reaches 88˚F. Add the rennet mixture and stir until the temperature reaches 105˚F.
Step 3: Separate Curds From Whey
Turn off the heat and allow the curds*—those wondrous clumps—to separate from the whey*. Scoop the curds into a bowl with the slotted spoon. Use the strainer to drain the whey from your mozzarella. Drain the whey back into the pot and leave the pot on the stove; you may use it for later.
Step 5: Knead Some More
Repeat microwaving and kneading 2 to 3 times. Add 1 teaspoon of salt as you’re kneading. You can also wrap the cheese in the cheese cloth and dip it in the pot of warm whey for 1 to 3 seconds to make it more pliable. After dipping the cheese, do the same as above, kneading, stretching and adding salt. Repeat 2 to 3 times as necessary.
Step 6: Enjoy
And there you have it: a gorgeous specimen of mozzarella. You can eat it right away or get a little fancy and braid it. Robin likes to eat it on pizza. Store the cheese in a baggie with some salt water in the refrigerator.
Citric acid: aka “sour salt,” is used as a flavoring and preservative agent. You can find it as a powder in health and organic food stores or order it online.
Rennet tablet: rennet contains enzymes that cause milk to curdle, separating it into solids and liquid. You can usually find rennet tablets by the gelatin in grocery stores. Do not substitute the tablets with junket rennet, which is weaker than regular rennet.
Curds and whey: what the eensy-weensy spider likes to eat.
Recipe and Photos by Robin of Our Semi Organic Life