How to Make Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

Updated on September 28, 2016
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Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" & "Taste of Home" magazines. She belongs to "Cook's Recipe Testers" for Cooks Illustrated.

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese with Cracked Black Pepper
Homemade Mozzarella Cheese with Cracked Black Pepper | Source

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.

How to Make Mozzarella Cheese Photo Gallery

After mixing in the diluted citric acid, heat pasteurized milk to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If using raw milk, heat to only 88 degrees Fahrenheit.
After mixing in the diluted citric acid, heat pasteurized milk to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If using raw milk, heat to only 88 degrees Fahrenheit. | Source
Add the rennet, which has been pre-dissolved in water.
Add the rennet, which has been pre-dissolved in water. | Source
Let the milk rest for 5-20 minutes, or until it has thickened. It will look similar to yogurt, with the whey separating from the curd.
Let the milk rest for 5-20 minutes, or until it has thickened. It will look similar to yogurt, with the whey separating from the curd. | Source
Use a long knife to cut the curd in a criss-cross pattern
Use a long knife to cut the curd in a criss-cross pattern | Source
Stir and heat the curds gently until the whey reaches 105 degrees Fahrenheit (for pasteurized milk) or 90 degrees Fahrenheit (for raw milk).
Stir and heat the curds gently until the whey reaches 105 degrees Fahrenheit (for pasteurized milk) or 90 degrees Fahrenheit (for raw milk). | Source
Take the pot off the heat and stir for another 2-5 minutes. Stir it 5 minutes if you like firmer cheese, less for softer cheese.
Take the pot off the heat and stir for another 2-5 minutes. Stir it 5 minutes if you like firmer cheese, less for softer cheese. | Source
Drain off the whey.
Drain off the whey. | Source
Save the whey for another use.
Save the whey for another use. | Source
Heat cheese curds in microwave on high heat for 1 minute.
Heat cheese curds in microwave on high heat for 1 minute. | Source
Stretch and pull the cheese, like taffy. Be gentle. More whey will drain off.
Stretch and pull the cheese, like taffy. Be gentle. More whey will drain off. | Source
Heat the cheese another 30-60 seconds and stretch, until cheese can be formed into a ball.
Heat the cheese another 30-60 seconds and stretch, until cheese can be formed into a ball. | Source
Shape cheese into a ball.
Shape cheese into a ball. | Source
Chill fresh mozzarella in cold water (15 minutes) then ice water (1.5 hours). Drain off water and store the cheese in the refrigerator in a tupperware or plastic bag.
Chill fresh mozzarella in cold water (15 minutes) then ice water (1.5 hours). Drain off water and store the cheese in the refrigerator in a tupperware or plastic bag. | Source

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

5 stars from 3 ratings of Mozzarella Cheese
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: 2 large balls of mozzarella cheese

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Dissolve citric acid in 1 cup water. In a separate bowl, dissolve the rennet in 1/4 cup water.
  2. 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.
  3. Heat milk to 88 degrees Fahrenheit for raw milk or 90 degrees Fahrenheit for pasteurized milk.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Slice the curd with a long knife.
  7. Stir curd and whey very gently for 1-2 minutes.
  8. 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.
  9. Drain the whey off and save for another use.
  10. Heat 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.
  11. 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.

1. Heat pot of water or whey (you can use the whey you drained off the curd) to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Transer the curds to a colander, folding and draining off the whey.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Add non-iodized salt, if desired. Stretch the cheese more, until it is soft and shiny and can be formed into a ball.

Source

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

    Comments

    Submit a Comment

    • vespawoolf profile imageAUTHOR

      vespawoolf 

      6 months ago from Peru, South America

      Janisa, mozzarella is delicious and fun to make at home. I recommend buying it online if you can’t find it in stores. Culturesforhealth.com has a nice variety of cultures to choose from.

    • JanisaChatte profile image

      Janisa 

      6 months ago from Earth

      This looks so much more delicious than the store bought versions. Where can I find rennet? Never seen it before. I'm really enjoying your recipes

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      10 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      The way you did this, it just looks like fun. And oh the results of my own homemade cheese. This is going into a place and won't my family be surprised and delighted to find it in their stockings!

    • stelaligizaki profile image

      Stella Aligizaki 

      11 months ago from Greece

      Very descriptive article. Thank you. I love mozzarella.

    • vespawoolf profile imageAUTHOR

      vespawoolf 

      11 months ago from Peru, South America

      Rebecca Graf, by reliable milk source I mean a local farm that processes milk hygienically. You can also used store bought milk, but I don´t recommend UHT milk common in European countries.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      12 months ago from Wisconsin

      What do you mean by reliable milk source? We cannot purchase fresh milk. :(

    • vespawoolf profile imageAUTHOR

      vespawoolf 

      23 months ago from Peru, South America

      I'm glad you're going to try this AudreyHowitt!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      23 months ago from California

      Yum--I love love making cheeses but have never tried making this--but your steps look very clear and easy--so I think I will give it a go!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      24 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I like the way you presented this hub. Making Mozarella cheese sounds challenging and exciting!

    • vespawoolf profile imageAUTHOR

      vespawoolf 

      2 years ago from Peru, South America

      HotBer, that´s an excellent question. Here are the steps for using the stovetop, or waterbath method:

      1. Heat pot of water or whey (you can use the whey you drained off the curd) to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.

      2. Transer the curds to a colander, folding and draining off the whey.

      3. 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.

      4. 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.

      5. Add non-iodized salt, if desired. Stretch the cheese more, until it is soft and shiny and can be formed into a ball.

      Enjoy!

    • vespawoolf profile imageAUTHOR

      vespawoolf 

      2 years ago from Peru, South America

      Thank you for your kind comment, AliciaC.

    • vespawoolf profile imageAUTHOR

      vespawoolf 

      2 years ago from Peru, South America

      Thank you for your comment Kyriaki Chatzi!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Your instructions and photos are great, vespawoolf. Thanks for sharing another interesting recipe article.

    • profile image

      HotBer 

      2 years ago

      Excellent Hub, thank you! Wondering if you have a work around for folks without a microwave oven?

    • Kyriaki Chatzi profile image

      Kyriaki Chatzi 

      2 years ago

      I simply LOVE cheese. Mozzarella is my go-to cheese for pizzas.

      To be honest, though, it never crossed my mind to make some at home. But, you never know...

    • vespawoolf profile imageAUTHOR

      vespawoolf 

      2 years ago from Peru, South America

      Thank you Kristen Howe!

    • vespawoolf profile imageAUTHOR

      vespawoolf 

      2 years ago from Peru, South America

      Thank you for your kind words sallybea!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      This is very interesting to know on how to make mozzarella cheese, though I never heard of rennet before. Great lens.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      2 years ago from Norfolk

      Wonderful hub with great images and instructions. I would love to try this one day but don't really have access to milk which would be suitable. Nevertheless, I think you have done a fantastic job on this Hub.

    • vespawoolf profile imageAUTHOR

      vespawoolf 

      2 years ago from Peru, South America

      Carb Dive, I'm happy you're going to make your own mozzarella cheese! It's so worth the effort and tastier than the cheese you buy in the grocery store.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      With your encouragement I m-i-g-h-t just have the courage to give this a try. I love cheese, and I make a lot of my own food, but have never attempted making cheese. Will definitely give this a try. Thanks for the great instructions.

    • vespawoolf profile imageAUTHOR

      vespawoolf 

      2 years ago from Peru, South America

      FlourishAnyway, thank you for your thoughtful comment!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 years ago from USA

      This really amazes me. I've always bought mozzarella at the store (usually pre-sliced or shredded) and never thought about what it takes to make it. Your step-by-steps are insightful and helpful to those who will be trying and interesting even for those who just want to look to see what's involved. Well done!

    • vespawoolf profile imageAUTHOR

      vespawoolf 

      2 years ago from Peru, South America

      Patty Inglish, MS, I'm glad you found this information useful and understandable. I hope you enjoy making and eating your own homemade mozzarella cheese.

    • vespawoolf profile imageAUTHOR

      vespawoolf 

      2 years ago from Peru, South America

      ChitrangadaSharan, I'm so glad this article inspired you to make your own homemade mozzarella cheese!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Excellent hub and you presented it so well with detailed instructions and helpful pictures!

      I am always fascinated by the cheese making process and have watched it on food channels on television though never tried it on my own.

      Now you have inspired me to do it myself.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      2 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I like this recipe, because the photos are useful and the instructions are understandable - much more so than a recipe I tried a few years ago! I'll be trying this soon.

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