Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home". She belongs to Cook's Recipe Testers for "Cook's Illustrated".
Making Fresh Mozzarella From Scratch
Making cheese at home is easier than you might think. Homemade mozzarella is creamy in texture and mild in flavor. You can add herbs or black pepper to the cheese curd during stretching or sprinkle herbs over the chilled cheese ball and serve with crackers. Or freeze the mozzarella ball, grate it and make a delicious homemade pizza.
It's best if you can find fresh cow's milk from a local farm. If fresh milk isn't available, try a reliable source of pasteurized milk. Commercial brands of milk can be unreliable since they may be super-heated, which breaks down cheese proteins. Milk pasteurized at high heat may not yield a good-quality mozzarella cheese.
You will need to buy a couple of specialty ingredients: rennet and citric acid. Both can be found in most modern grocery stores. If they're not available in your area, you can easily purchase them online. You'll also need a food thermometer.
Cheesemaking is an art. It becomes easier to make cheese with practice. Once you understand how the curd feels and looks when it's ready to cut, you'll turn out delicious balls of mozzarella cheese every time.
Vegetable or Animal Rennet?
Rennet is an enzyme used in making most cheese. Vegetable rennet is obtained from special types of mold or plants. Animal rennet comes from the stomachs of calves, lambs or baby goats. Rennet can be purchased in tablet or liquid form. Either type works well and should be diluted before introducing it into the milk. This enzyme prefers temperatures from 85–105 degrees Fahrenheit and will become deactivated at temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
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Homemade Mozzarella Cheese
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
2 large balls of mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup water + 1/4 tablet Vegetable rennet, Dissolved
- 1/2 cup water + 1 1/2 teaspoons Citric acid, Dissolved
- 1 gallon Cow's milk, Preferably unpasteurized
- 2 teaspoons Non-iodized salt, Optional
- Dissolve citric acid in 1 cup water. In a separate bowl, dissolve the rennet in 1/4 cup water.
- Pour dissolved citric acid and water into a large pot. Pour one gallon of milk into the pot, stirring vigorously so the citric acid is distributed evenly throughout the milk.
- Heat milk to 88 degrees Fahrenheit for raw milk or 90 degrees Fahrenheit for pasteurized milk.
- Take off heat and add dissolved rennet, using up and down motions to stir the rennet into the milk. Stir for no more than 20 seconds. Stop as soon as you notice the milk is thickening.
- Let the milk sit for 10–30 minutes, or until the curd is firm. It will look similar to yogurt, with the yellow whey separating from the solidified milk mass.
- Slice the curd with a long knife.
- Stir curd and whey very gently for 1–2 minutes.
- Put the pot back onto the burner and heat slowly, stirring gently but constantly, until the whey reaches 90 degrees Fahrenheit for raw milk or 110 degrees Fahrenheit for pasteurized milk.
- Drain the whey off and save for another use.
- Heat the drained curd in a microwave on high for 1 minute. Stretch and knead the curd like taffy. Heat another 30–60 seconds and pull until it's glossy and can be formed into a ball.
- Chill the cheese ball in refrigerated water for 15 minutes. Add ice and chill another 1 1/2 hours. Drain off water and store the cheese in a plastic bag or Tupperware.
Stovetop or Waterbath Method
For those of you who don´t use a microwave, you can also heat the curd on the stovetop.
- Heat pot of water or whey (you can use the whey you drained off the curd) to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Transfer the curds to a colander, folding and draining off the whey.
- Dip the colander with the curds into the hot water a few times, folding with a spoon, until stretchy. Curds much reach 160–170 degrees Fahrenheit before you can stretch them.
- Remove curd and stretch it like taffy. You may need gloves to do this. If the curd isn´t stretchy enough, return it to the water bath.
- Add non-iodized salt, if desired. Stretch the cheese more, until it is soft and shiny and can be formed into a ball.
What Can I Do With Leftover Whey?
Whey is high in protein. Freeze it in ice cube trays and store the cubes in the freezer for use in smoothies. Or dilute it 50-50 with water and pour on acid-loving plants. Tomato plants flourish when watered with diluted whey. Don't use whey on plants until they're mature. You can also use whey to make homemade ricotta cheese.
Marinated Mozzarella Cheese
Marinated mozzarella cheese is delicious with crackers. Or stick marinated mozzarella cubes with toothpicks and serve as hors d'oeuvres. Combine:
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup roasted red pepper, chopped
- 1 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, dried italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
Combine ingredients. Chop 1 pound of mozzarella cheese in cubes. Marinate in olive oil and herbs for 8 hours or overnight.
How to Make Homemade Mozzarella Cheese
Questions & Answers
Question: Will adding a bit of cornflour to homemade mozzarella remove the water in it so that we can use it on pizzas without the pizza becoming soggy?
Answer: Your question about cornflour is interesting. I’ve never heard that cornflour decreases the water content of fresh mozzarella. Please let me know if you try it and it’s successful. I do know that freezing the mozzarella for a week and then draining on towels while thawing can help remove some of the water. You can also slice it and leave it in a sieve so some of the water drains off before dressing the pizza. I hope that helps!
© 2016 Vespa Woolf