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Simple Mozzarella

October 15, 2010

Who doesn’t love soft, fresh cheese with sun kissed tomatoes and bright basil? Throw in some fresh bread and a little olive oil…now imagine that with your own warm, homemade mozzarella! You can make it and have it ready in an hour. Check it out!

mozzarella knot

herbed warm mozzarella tied into a simple knot

Ingredients:

1 gallon of milk

1 ½ tsp citric acid (to purchase citric acid or a complete mozzarella kit visit our SHOP.)

¼ Rennet Tablet

1 tsp cheese salt (or to taste, herbs optional)


Supplies:

Large pot- at least 6 quart

Butter Muslin (fine cheesecloth)

Colander

Large Slotted spoon

Thermometer

microwaveable bowl

Rubber gloves or large spoon


YIELD- 1 ½ lb (2 big fists)


Ok, less than an hour to fresh Mozzarella!

If you’d like to see this process in step by step photos, check out my Facebook Album. The only part you don’t see is the heating of the curds before folding and kneading, you will choose microwave or hot water bath but the curd handling is the same.

Step 1- Dissolve ¼ rennet tablet into 1 cup of cool, chlorine-free water. Stir and set aside. Wrap the remaining pieces of tablet and store in the freezer.

Step 2- Mix 1 ½ teaspoons citric acid into 1 cup of cool, chlorine-free water until dissolved.

Step 3- Pour 1 gallon of milk into your pot. Pour the citric acid solution in and stir thoroughly. Heat to 90°F, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

Step 4- At 90°F slowly stir in the rennet solution with a gentle up and down motion for approximately 30 seconds. Continue to heat to 105°F (110°F if you will use the water bath).

Step 5- Your curds could already show clear signs of coagulation- curds would look like shiny yogurt, you’d see a separation between curds and whey and the curds would pull from the sides of the pot.

- If so, stir very gently for another minute and turn off the heat. Skip down to step 6.

- If the curd doesn’t look like shiny custard or yogurt but looks like clumps of melted cheese floating in yellow liquid, you’re still in good shape. Skip down to step 6.

- If you don’t see any of these signs and your whey is still milky instead of yellow, heat a little more (110°F max) while gently moving the curds around with your spoon. You are now cooking the curds and expelling whey. If you reach 110°F and still don’t see any signs, let the pot sit off the heat for 15-45 minutes. Skip down to step 6 when you have coagulation.

- If your milk did not form a curd at all, you may have some unlabeled ultra-pasteurized milk on your hands. Try another brand but follow this through- cheese has a way of working out!

Step 6- Ladle your curds into a heat-resistant bowl. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the curds for stretching later or move on to the heating and stretching steps.

Note- If you will use the “Water Bath” (no microwave) method, heat your whey to 185°F and read the following instructions in bold. For microwave instructions, continue below the bold print.

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No Microwave? No problem! Follow these instructions:

When your water/whey bath hits 185°F (no hotter or you’ll overcook your curds!) take the pot off the stove.

Gently shape half of your curds into a ball (as much as possible) and dip into the whey for 1-3 minutes or until your curds hit 135°F (heated to the core). Put on your rubber gloves, lift the ball of curds out of the whey and proceed with salting, stretching and shaping as detailed below in steps 11 and 12 (you may also stretch with a spoon in your heat-resistant bowl).

Repeat on all curds- more than once if necessary for a smooth ball of cheese. You may need to reheat your whey if you’re slow- remember, no hotter than 185°F! If temperamental curds don’t stretch sometimes, do not despair. Just fold, salt, and shape warm curds into balls. Practice, practice- enjoy!

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Step 7- Ladle your curds into a large microwaveable bowl. Put on your rubber gloves or use a large spoon for steps 7-12. Gently hold back the curds while you pour off whey (don’t press much).

Step 8- Heat the bowl in the microwave for 1 minute.

Step 9- Gently use a spoon to fold the curds over several times and evenly distribute the heat. Drain off any whey as above.

Step 10- Microwave for another 30 seconds. Drain again and knead the curd gently- try stretching. It must be 135°F to stretch properly. If it isn’t hot enough, microwave for another 30 seconds.

Step 11- Add your salt (I like 1.5 tsp or so) plus any herbs and work into the cheese by stretching and folding, stretching and folding…the more you work the curd, the firmer the cheese will be.

Step 12- Stretch the cheese until it is smooth. Shape into a ball or get creative! This mozzarella is best eaten immediately but you can store it covered. Do NOT store in water or whey or it will get slimy and disintegrate. You can however, dunk your shaped mozz into ice water for just a few minutes to retain it’s shape. Otherwise, its own heat can flatten it. Use within 1 week.

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