When I started milking the girls, one of the first things I wanted to do was make mozzarella cheese. I’ve been doing it for several years now, but consistency has been hard to achieve. It seems like it should be simple, but sometimes it is crumbly instead of stretchy. After trying various methods, I think I’ve gotten it.
To start with, you can’t use store bought milk. I know that’s devastating, but if you want to make cheese you can’t use milk that has been homogenized and pasteurized without adding calcium chloride to it. The process destroys the natural makeup of milk. (Excellent article here that tells the why and how to correct the problem)
Start with a gallon of milk. I use my milk completely raw, but it’s within a couple of days from the goat, and I will immediately freeze the cheese. If raw scares you, you can follow directions for pasteurizing it first at the link above. Add 1/2 tablespoon of citric acid to the gallon of milk.
The citric acid is what gives mozzarella cheese its stretchy quality. Once it’s mixed in, heat the milk to 88 degrees.
It’s not too hard to get a good temperature on the milk at this stage. I just stir to even the temperature out.
When it reaches 88 degrees, add rennet. I use a liquid vegetable rennet (1/2 teaspoon), but you can use 1/2 of a tablet.
Dissolve/mix the rennet with 1/2 cup of cool water. Add it to the 88 degree milk and gently mix.
This is where measuring temperature gets tricky. You can’t stir because you’ll end up making cottage cheese, but the temperature will be different all throughout the pan. I try my thermometer in a couple of places, and it will vary by several degrees depending on how close you are to the surface of the milk. It all depends where the whey has pooled. It will have a much higher temperature in a place that it collects. Technically, you are to heat the milk to 105 degrees.
This really seems to be guess work though. When you are reasonably sure it’s at 105 degrees, or you hit a pocket of whey and the temperature suddenly reads 143, turn the heat off. Really, I had it get that hot in one little spot. Let is sit for a couple of minutes. It gives the curd time to finish solidifying and separate from the whey.
After it has set a couple of minutes, pour it into a colander to drain.
I think this is the point that kept me messing up. I didn’t realize, a big part of making mozzarella is removing the whey.
After it has drained a bit, you can gently press to remove more liquid.
I generally end up squeezing it and making some small balls with the curd. I try to get a lot of the whey out before moving on to the next step, so I’ll pour out the liquid that has drained into the bowl.
The final step in making mozzarella is heat treating it so that it becomes stretchy and shiny. I use the microwave instead of the old world traditional way of putting it back into the whey and heating it on the stove. Just put it in a microwave safe bowl and heat for thirty seconds.
You’ll see more liquid in the bowl.
Drain it and squeeze more of the liquid out. Dump any liquid out of the bowl and then microwave it for another thirty seconds.
This time, it’s probably going to start getting warm (or hot) to squeeze out. I’ve found that I like to wear my vinyl medical gloves to help protect my hands from the heat.
Return it to the microwave for one last thirty-second heat treatment. This time, it will be very hot. It might almost be liquid. If you can’t stand to touch it, you can pour it onto a clean counter.
Sprinkle it with about a half to whole teaspoon of canning salt. You’ll want to measure this out before you start getting your hands messy. Trust me on this. Work the salt in.
I tend to stretch and pull over the top and keep working it that way. As it cools, it will become glossy and stretchy.
Then it’s ready to put in the refrigerator and cool. I put mine in pint plastic bags so that it has a block shape.
After it’s cooled, I can make slices.
I can grate it and freeze for later use.
I can just eat it plain. It’s good stuff!
Linking to Homestead Barn Hop.