Making Mozzarella

And you thought I’d forget to post about this… 😉

Gathering Supplies:
When I wanted to make mozzarella I knew the place to go was cheesemaking.com. I had heard of Ricki Carroll the “Cheese Queen” more than once. She is the go to person for beginning cheesemaking. I am not going to describe the cheesemaking process step by step here. Instead I’ll offer up what I learned and refer you to her site for the rest. I was going to buy her 30 Minute Mozzarella and Ricotta kit. After breaking down the price and reviewing the mozzarella recipe I decided to order my ingredients separately. It was more cost effective for me because a)I already had a thermometer and b)I didn’t need muslin that came with the kit as I didn’t plan to make ricotta (and would probably make due with something else anyway).

I placed my order on a Wednesday for two items:

Vegetable Rennet tablets (item R4)
Citric Acid (item C13N)

I was seriously impressed when I opened my mailbox on Friday (only 2 days later) and found my order in there. I paid for it with my debit card and they didn’t actually debit my account until the following week. Talk about fast!

A note about ordering through Ricki’s company: First off, I felt like it was only right to support her business since I knew I was going to use her online tutorials to make my cheese. Second, before fully recommending her I did snoop around online a bit and compare prices. I didn’t find lower prices at any of the other cheese supply places. I suspect you could find citric acid cheaper at a bulk foods store but I don’t think it would be worth it for the extra time and shipping. Ricki’s business is good at what they do so I’m going to stick with the pros.

As I said, I already had a thermometer that read over 110 degrees. I had a gallon of raw milk from our cow share, although according to Ricki’s site you can make mozzarella with some store bought milks and even with a combination of cream and dry milk. I used my big stainless steel pot with non-stick coating (no aluminum) and wooden and plastic utensils. I also got out my big plastic mixing bowl and my Pyrex bowl as well. Time to make cheese!

Following the recipe
Ricki has posted extensive directions for making mozzarella here. I suggest reading through the entire thing first: both the picture subtitles and the written directions at the bottom. I found several differences between the two sets of directions so just went with the written directions on most things.

Flipping and pressing the cheese

When it comes time to “knead” the cheese I did not flip it out on the counter. I dividing the curds directly into two big bowls (one wouldn’t hold it all). I microwaved one while I was pressed and kneading the second one with a slotted spoon. I just flipped and pressed, flipped and pressed, with the spoon while the cheese was in the bowl. Then I poured off the whey and swapped bowls. When I couldn’t get much whey out anymore I set both bowls in the fridge to cool. More whey came off while cooling so I poured that out every few minutes. Finally, I combined the cheese in to one lump and wrapped it in plastic wrap. I set it on a hand knit dishcloth in the fridge. The cloth absorbed any extra runoff, plus as the cheese cooled it created a neat design on the one side.

I rinsed out the original milk jug. After the whey had cooled I put it back in the jug and froze it for later use in baking. You can see how much there is – almost a full gallon.

Getting a Cheese You Like
You’ll see in the directions that letting the curd set up longer and handling the cheese more are both supposed to produce a firmer cheese. The first time around I following the directions exactly. The cheese was too soft to shred well, which is what I wanted to do with it. This last time I let the curd set up for 10 minutes plus a little extra because by then I was mixing up a loaf of bread. I also heated the cheese and pressed it several times (4 or 5). Then, as described above, I continued to pour off all the whey I could during the cooling process. I’m much happier with the cheese this time although I’m still not sure it is quite hard enough to shred easily.

Finished product

Another view showing the thickness

While I am thrilled that the cheese LOOKS exactly like it should, I’m not as happy with the taste. It doesn’t taste bad, it just doesn’t have much flavor. I think the solution to this is adding lipase. According the recipe webpage, “Lipase may be added to the milk to provide a typical italian cheese flavor.” On the lipase page it gives directions for adding a very small quantity to the milk. I plan to order the lipase soon and try it. I wish I would have ordered it originally to save on the shipping – which you may want to do if you anticipate making the cheese very often.

In Summary
I was pleasantly surprised by how easy is is to make mozzarella. This gives me hope that I can make more cheeses in the future. It is nice to know exactly what we’re eating instead of using cheese from the store made with who knows what. Plus, I like it that I can still use the whey for baking so I’m not using up an entire gallon of milk. We’re one step closer to an all local diet, I gained a new skill in the process, and I might be a little closer to convincing hubby to get me that milk cow. 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Making Mozzarella

  1. Farmer's Daughter

    Thanks for posting this! I want to try making mozzarella but so far haven’t have the motivation, even though I do have the supplies. Someday… A snow day would be a good day to try it, I think. Now I just need some snow.

    Reply
  2. Angie

    Hey Jena,

    I have tried this several times. I always have different milk and that really does change the outcome. We also tried cheddar but we discovered you really need a press to get all of the whey out otherwise it molds.

    Anyway, keep at it! Especially since you have a good, solid milk source – I think cheese is a bit like bread. It might takes quite a while to get the ‘feel’ of it.

    Reply
    1. marriedtothefarm Post author

      Great, thanks for the tips! I’d thought I’d start with the mozzarella and work my way up. What I’d really love to make someday is Parmesan. We use A LOT of that around here, mmm mmm.

      Reply

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