So maybe you've never thought about making your own cheese. That's okay because after I show you how easy and delicious it is, you're going to want to give it a try. You'll need a few things that you probably don't have on hand, but they are easy to find at specialty food stores or online.
Here's what you need:
- microwave safe bowl
- instant read thermometer
- slotted spoon
- cheese salt
- rubber gloves
- 1 gallon whole milk (NOT ultra-pasturized)
- 1 1/2 tsp citric acid
- 1/2 C cool water
Start by heating the milk in a large pot to about 55-60 degrees. While the milk is heating, dissolve the 1 1/2 tsp of citric acid into 1/2 C cool water. When the milk reaches 55 degrees, add the citric acid mixture and stir until the milk reaches 90 degrees. Add 8 drops of the rennet (be sure to check the instructions on your particular brand of rennet as this amount can vary). Stir in until well blended, then turn off the heat and let mixture thicken for 6-8 minutes
After 6-8 minutes, curds will form. With a long knife, cut through the curds in a grid pattern, making sure the knife reaches all the way to the bottom of the pot. Now turn the heat back on and reheat the mixture until rubbery clumps form. Transfer these clumps into the microwave safe bowl using a slotted spoon.
The liquid that remains in the pot is the whey. It's loaded with nutritional benefits, so save it for later. Heat the cheese in the microwave for 30 seconds. Be sure to wear the gloves now because the cheese is going to be hot. Remove from the microwave and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Drain the liquid from the bowl and heat the cheese for another 30 seconds. Drain the liquid then add 1 TBL of the cheese salt and mix it all together. Taste a bit and see if you need more salt. Heat one more time for 30 seconds, drain and squeeze out any remaining liquid. You are trying to get a taffy-like consistency. If you're not there yet, heat it one more time, but it's not usually necessary. Now it's time to shape the cheese into whatever size balls you want, then drop into a bowl of ice water. That's it!! You have delicious, homemade mozzarella.
My daughter and I made this cheese with fresh milk from her cow. If you can get your hands on any fresh milk, go for it. The taste can't be beat. If not, any organic whole milk will work fine. We used the mozzarella on our pizza that night, but if you're not going to use it right away, store it in the water so that it doesn't form a hard skin on the outside.