Jan. 20 is National Cheese Lover's Day, the annual food holiday that celebrates all things creamy, gooey, stringy, and delicious. If you're planning on observing this delicious day of dairy, there's no better way than trying a simple DIY mozzarella recipe that puts the power of cheese making in your hands.
You should know from now that I'm a fan of do-it-yourself recipes. Whether I'm finding out what tastes good wrapped in bacon (verdict: everything) or turning a favorite childhood snack food into a fancy grown-up pizza bagel bite, I love learning new things in the kitchen, especially when those things involve cheese.
I've attempted making cheese in the past, but my first few attempts left me with creamy, mozzarella flavored cheese spread instead of a soft yet formed ball. But since then, I've spent a lot of time with my kitchen thermometer, my stove top, and more gallons of milk that I like to think about, and I have finally figured out how to make my own mozzarella at home. What's more, I've figured out the best ways to flavor them using olive oil, herbs, and other delicious garden-inspired flavors.
Ready to make some dairy magic in your own kitchen? Here is a simple DIY cheese recipe that will take you from milk to mozzarella in a half hour, flat. Happy National Cheese Lover's Day!
Simple DIY Mozzarella
In 30 minutes, plus cooking time, you can transform a pot of milk into a delicious ball of fresh mozzarella. Here's what you'll need.
- 1 1/2 tsp. citric acid*
- 1/4 rennet tablet*
- 1 1/4 cup water, separated
- 15 cups whole milk (not ultra-pasturized)
- 1 cups light cream
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
*These can be found at most grocery stores, specialty beer stores, and beer making stores. You can also order them online.
- Large stainless steel or ceramic pot (5+ qt.)
- Digital kitchen thermometer
- Microwave and microwave-safe bowl, OR stainless steel strainer
- Slotted spoon
- Long spatula or knife
- Measuring cups & teaspoon
- First, make sure your work area is clean and free from contaminates. Lay all of your ingredients out, and have your kitchen tools within reach.
- Prepare the rennet by dissolving 1/4 tablet in 1/4 cup of cool, distilled water. Set aside.
- In your large pot, dissolve 1 1/2 tsp. citric acid in one cup of cool, distilled water. Immediately pour cold milk and cream into the pot, and stir well.
- Over medium heat, raise the temperature of the milk mixture to 90º F. You will begin to notice curds starting to form. Immediately remove pot from the burner.
- Stir in rennet slowly using a top-to-bottom motion for 30 seconds. Cover pot and let sit for five additional minutes.
- Once you begin to notice the clear separation between the curds (the firm, white material) and the whey (the liquid), use a knife to cut the curd into smaller pieces. Use your slotted spoon to ladle them out into A) a microwave safe bowl, or B) a metal strainer. Set the whey aside to cool.
- Using a microwave, heat curds up in 30-second increments until their internal temperature reaches 135º F.
- Heat a large pot of water just below boiling, approximately 190º F. Submerge strainer and curds into the water until their internal temperature reaches 135º F. Drain curds.
- Sprinkle 1 1/2 tsp. of salt (more or less to taste) over the ball of cheese, and mix in using hands. Continue to knead the mozzarella by pulling, folding, and stretching it until it begins to have a glossy sheen. The mixture will tighten and firm as you go.
- You can use the mozzarella right away, or store in the fridge for two weeks.
Tips & Tricks
Cheese making can be a tricky, fickle kitchen science that takes a little bit of experimenting. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you set off on your own adventure:
- Make sure you use a non-reactive pot. Avoid copper, iron, and aluminum, all materials that can affect the flavor, appearance, and structure of your cheese.
- For a softer cheese, do not let your curds set for as long and avoid overworking them during the kneading process.
- If you want to try to infuse your cheese with flavor, try letting it sit in flavored olive oil for 20 minutes to a half an hour. Things like basil, garlic, and sun dried tomato make great flavor mix-ins.
- When chosing your milk, make sure you find something that is not ultra-pasteurized. If you want a lower fat option, you can use an entrie gallon of milk and no cream, as well as two percent milk versus whole.