Saturday, July 9, 2011

Make your own Mozzarella (aka Pizza Friday!)

I think it's pretty safe to say that Pizza Friday is a standard in the U.S. I remember having several during my childhood and there's just something about it that I love. MW and I enjoy a similar tradition during the summer months when our garden is flourishing and the daylight seems to last forever: Make your own mozzarella and pizza night!

Making mozzarella isn't that difficult, though it helps to have another person on hand. MW is the prime cheese maker and I serve as soux chef. Just know that fresh mozzarella is MUCH different than typical prepackaged mozzarella (like string cheese). It is softer and more moist than string cheese. You can buy fresh mozzarella at most stores to try before you make your own.

Here's what you'll need:
1 Gallon Milk (not ultra-pasteurized) - we buy this from the Reynolda Farm Market, which has local dairy
1 1/4 cup cool water (chlorine-free)
1 1/2 tsp citric acid
1/4 rennet table (or 1/4 tsp if liquid rennet)
1 tsp cheese salt (optional, but highly recommended. you can also add in herbs too)

*note: MW bought a cheese making kit which included the citric acid, rennet, and cheese salt. The one we have is Ricki's Mozzarella & Ricotta Kit (Found Here). I would highly recommend it! The directions I have written out are mainly from this Cheese Kit, which are very well written and includes pictures.

How to enjoy your own mozzarella:
1. Dissolve rennet into a 1/4 cup cool water. Stir and set aside.
2. Mix 1 1/2 tsps citric acid into 1 cup cool water until dissolved.
3. Pour 1 gallon of milk into your pot and stir vigorously while adding the citric acid. 
4. Heat the milk to 90 degrees (F) while stirring slowly. (Use medium low heat!)
5. Remove the pot from the burner and slowly stir in the rennet solution with an up and down motion for about 30 seconds. 
6. Cover the pot and leave it alone for about 5 minutes.
7. Check the curd. It should be a soft, pillow of white an inch or so thick on top of the whey. Do this by lightly pressing your hand down near the edge of the pot to reveal the whey underneath. 
(sorry for the blur, but you get the idea)

8. If your curd is too soft or if the whey underneath looks milky, let it set for a few more minutes before continuing. If it didn't form a curd, you failed :(
9. Cut the curd with a knife that reaches to the bottom of your pot in a checkerboard pattern

10. If you have so far succeeded, place the pot back on the stove and heat to 105 degrees (F) while slowly moving the curds around with a spoon (metal slotted spoon is best)

11. We use a microwave method from here to get it to cheese form, so I will describe that method only. 

12. Take off the burner once you reach 105 degrees and continue slowly stirring for about 2-5 minutes. Try not to break up too many of the curd cubes. Keeping them in tact will make it easier to drain them out. 
13. Ladle your curds into a large microwaveable bowl and drain off as much of the whey as you can without pressing the curds too much.  
14. Once the majority of the curds are out, place the bowl in the microwave for 1 minute. (It helps to wear rubber gloves because this part gets HOT).

15. Remove and drain off the whey. Place back in the microwave for another 30 seconds and drain again. The cheese must be 135 degrees (F) to stretch properly, so check it and if it's not there yet, microwave it again. 

16. Place the curds onto a cutting board or other flat surface. Add in the cheese salt (optional, or herbs).

17. Begin to stretch the cheese by pulling it like taffy until it is smooth and shiny. The more you work it, the harder it will be. 

18. Once it is nice and firm and taffy-like, form it into a ball (or log, braid, or bite size bits) and put it into an ice water bath. This will preserve its nice, shiny texture and help to maintain the shape as you prep it for the fridge. 

19. After a few seconds, pull it out, pat it dry with paper towel and wrap it up tight in plastic wrap and put directly into the fridge. 

20. One of our favorite things to do is to make a roll with pesto and turkey pepperoni:

(it is as delicious as it looks)

Our other favorite thing to do with it is to use it on our homemade pizza!
I use the whey to make a simple crust with wheat flour, yeast, salt, and olive oil. I roll it out and place it on a pan with some olive oil and cornmeal. Then we add our pesto as the base, a little sprinkling of shredded cheese, turkey pepperoni, and garden veggies! MW even concocts a delicious spread for the crust consisting of olive oil, garlic, grating cheese, and herbs which he then paints along the edge and it is a TOTAL game changer! Amazing. We bake it almost fully and then add our homemade mozzarella. Since it is homemade, it is super moist and we don't want that to seep out and into the pizza, so baking it just enough to melt it is perfect. Bake at 400 degrees (F) for 25 total minutes. We usually add the mozzarella with about 10 minutes left to bake. 

It definitely makes for a long night when we do it all in the same night, but it's so completely worth it. Making something completely on your own is such a good feeling. Top it off with a nice homebrew and you have a happy MW:

*Exciting post coming tomorrow!!


  1. im waiting for the "exciting post coming tomorrow". its been days. LIAR.

  2. haha called out! I had to finish my paper first before I could write a fun post. But I definitely will tomorrow!!