I’ve been promising ya’ll a mozzarella recipe for a while now and it’s finally here!
I don’t consider myself to be an expert cheesemaker, by any means. BUT, I have had considerable success with mozzarella (and having a milk cow gives me plenty of milk to practice with…)
There are a million-and-one mozzarella recipes out there, including ones that use microwaves and citric acid as short-cuts.
But, I have personally settled on this traditional-style method because it consistently gives me an end result with good taste and good texture.
I’ve tried the citric-acid recipes, but I never cared for the results (it would always release a lot of whey on my pizza, and leave me with soggy crust…). And the microwave recipes are quick, but the thought of using a microwave on beautiful raw milk makes me cringe…
This recipe basically takes all day, from start-to-finish. Now, before you say “No way!”, keep in mind that you don’t have to be in the kitchen all day– there are just a lot of waiting periods– so if you have a timer that you can carry with you, you can definitely still head outside to work in the garden or barn during the cheesemaking process.
Trust me, I have a crazy-busy life, and I wouldn’t be choosing the option that takes longer unless I thought it was worth it.
Why Make Homemade Mozzarella?
So, why go to all the trouble of making mozzarella at home? Here are my top 4 reasons:
1. It taste sooo much better than the stuff at the store. The bargain-brand mozzarella you find at supermarkets pretty much tastes like cardboard to me… Of course, you can spring for a higher-quality brand, but expect to pay considerably more.
2. It’s (mostly) raw. Well, as raw as mozzarella can be, I guess. You won’t be heating the milk or curds past 100 degrees with this recipe. However, during the stretching process, you will be dipping the curds in hot liquid which effects the ‘rawness’ a bit. However, I’m thinkin’ it’s still way better than the mozzarella made with totally pasteurized skim milk at the grocery store. (Here’s why raw milk is important to me, in case you were wondering.)
3. It uses up lots of milk. If you have your own dairy animals, this is a really, really good thing. When I’m drowning in milk, I make a double batch of mozzarella, which uses up 4 gallons of milk.
4. It freezes well. Make a bunch of mozz when you’re swimming in milk and freeze it for the times when your animals are dry.
About the Ingredients
This mozzarella technique requires that 3 ingredients be added to the milk. If you have already ventured into cheesemaking, you might already have these in your fridge or freezer:
Thermophilic Starter Culture– This is what will culture the milk. I get mine from Cultures for Health. I like the direct-set variety- just because I don’t have time to propogate cultures.
Rennet– I get the double-strength vegetable rennet from Cultures for Health. There are many varieties of rennet available- tablets or regular strength rennet is ok too– but steer clear of the “Junket” stuff at the grocery store.
Lipase– I also get this from Cultures for Health (I get the Mild Calf Lipase). This is a totally optional ingredient, but I like to use it since it gives the cheese more depth of flavor. And I figure if I am going to all the trouble of making homemade mozzarella, it might as well taste as good as possible.
Milk– I use my raw cow milk, but goat milk will work as well. You can use pasteurized milk if you must, but try to purchase the most high-quality, whole milk that you can afford. Sometimes I lightly skim the cream from my gallons of raw milk (if I happen to be low on cream), but otherwise, I like to use full-fat milk since it gives the best flavor.
Gather your Equipment
Thankfully, you don’t need a whole lot of special equipment to make cheese at home. Here is a quick list:
- A large stockpot with a lid (a 2 or 3 gallon one is ideal)
- A thermometer (I use a meat thermometer, since I tend to break the glass, candy-style ones…)
- A long, thin knife to cut the curd (I use our wedding-cake knife, actually. It’s horrible for cutting bread, but great for cutting curds)
- A timer- preferably the portable kind. Or, use the timer feature on your cell phone.
- Big jars or pitchers to capture the excess whey
- Clean rubber kitchen gloves. (Get a designated set for your cheesemaking– don’t use the ones you put on to scrub the toilet, please.)
Make sure all of your equipment is extra clean, since this will be a sorta-raw cheese.