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Fresh, HOMEMADE Mozzarella!

August 23, 2013

Yep, you read that right!  Today I took the plunge into cheese-making!

Make Your Own Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog

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My interest was first piqued when I read this tutorial from The Pioneer Woman.  Not only did she make homemade mozzarella sound fun and downright delicious, it sounded MUCH cheaper than purchasing a ready-made hunk at the grocery or specialty foods store.  (I had to alter my method slightly from the Pioneer Woman’s, because I had slightly different ingredients to work with.  You can refer to either tutorial, depending on what you’re working with.)

I stored the idea away and sat on it for many months… and this week, I did it!  I’m so proud and excited to share the method with you!

Once you have invested in one or two slightly uncommon ingredients, you’ll find that this really is SO much cheaper than buying Mozzarella.  Plus it is really fun!  My husband and I worked on it together today and it was like a fun little date project 🙂  And you can serve this gourmet treat on homemade pizzas, yummy baguette slices all toasted up under the broiler, or stuffed into calzones.  There are a lot of delicious possibilities!

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So… ALL YOU NEED is:

Mozzarella Ingredients >> Pretty/Hungry Blog1) 1 Gallon of Whole Milk (Preferably raw, unpasteurized whole milk… but they say regular will work too.  I was fortunate to have access to the raw stuff through a friend!)

2) 6 Tbs. Lemon Juice or 1 1/2 tsp. Citric Acid Powder  (if you use the powder, you’ll need to dissolve it into 1/4 C water.)

3) 1/2 tablet of Rennet dissolved in 1/4 C water  (*Alternatively you can use liquid vegetable rennet mixed with water.  See instructions on individual bottle of rennet for amount of water to use.)

4) 2 tsp. Kosher salt or Sea Salt

As for equipment, you’ll need:

-a large non-reactive stock pot

-an instant-read thermometer (I use this one and I love it!)

-a large strainer

-a long knife

-a large heat-proof bowl

-a microwave

Rennet may seem like an “out there” ingredient… but it’s fairly basic!  It causes milk to curdle so that you can make it into cheese, custards, etc.  The Junket rennet tablets I used can be found in a regular grocery store near the pudding.  However, I have heard that Junket is the least reliable rennet brand out there, so if you can find liquid vegetable rennet at a health food store or online, I recommend using that.  Just be sure you read the bottle instructions because the times/temperatures of the cheese-making process vary depending on the rennet you use.

*One more side-note, and then I’ll get to the cheese… Did you know that in most states, the plant you need to make your OWN vegetable rennet for free can likely be found just outside your door??  See this recipe to give it a try!  (I would soooo do it, but apparently Arkansas is the ONE state this plant is not native to.  Just my luck.)

Ok, let’s make some CHEESE!

Pour the lemon juice into a large stock pot.

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

Now grab your rennet and use a butter knife to divide one tablet in half.  Dissolve the 1/2 tablet in 1/4 C room temperature water.

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

And set that rennet/water aside to use in a moment.

Now, pour the gallon of milk into the pot with the lemon juice.

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

Place your instant read thermometer so that the needle is submerged by the milk but not touching the bottom or sides of the pan.  Heat this mixture over medium-low heat, stirring gently, until it reached 90-degrees F.  Do not worry if the milk looks like it is curdling a little.

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

When the milk has reached 90 degrees, remove it from the burner and pour in the rennet dissolved in water.

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

Gently stir in a circular motion for 30 seconds.  Then use the spoon to make the milk “be still.”  Then place the lid on top of the pot and leave it untouched for the next 2 hours.  So simple!

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

After two hours, the rennet will have worked its magic.  You may not be able to tell yet (I could, but only barely) but the milk has thickened and begun to separate.  Remove the lid from the pot and use a long knife to cut a criss-cross pattern into the thickened milk.  The cut marks you make may not hold their form, but it will help to separate the curds for the next step.  (Note: If the milk is still completely liquid at this stage, place the lid back on the pot and wait another 1-2 hours, leaving the milk undisturbed.  This is one of the downsides of Junket rennet… it works verrrrrry slowwwwwwly.)

After all that waiting, return the pot to the burner and heat the milk, stirring gently, until the mixture reaches 105-degrees F.

You’ll start to notice some real separation occurring!

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

When the milk has reached 105 degrees, it is ready to be made into cheese!

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the stringy curds of cheese into a large strainer sitting over a large bowl.

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

Fish out all the curds… and whatever you do, don’t throw out the remaining liquid (the whey.)  People pay big money for that stuff!  It is pure liquid protein.  Chris and I are super excited to have it leftover from our cheese-making fun.  We plan to add it to our breakfast smoothies and mix it with chocolate syrup for a post-working recovery drink.  Score!

Gently swirl the large lump of soon-to-be mozzarella around in the strainer, allowing the whey to drain out.  Isn’t this awesome looking??

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

And gently squeeze it to release more of the whey.

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog

Now, place the mozzarella in a heat-proof bowl and microwave it on High for 1 minute.

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

When you take it out, it will be hot!  So you might want to let it cool off for a minute or two.  Once you can handle it again, drain off the whey that has gathered in the bowl.  Then gently squeeze the ball of mozzarella to extract even more.

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

After doing this, you will return the cheese to the bowl and put it back in the microwave for 35 seconds.

Then repeat the process of gently squeezing it to release more whey.  (I let my husband do this one since he’s less of a wuss than I am when it comes to touching hot liquids.)

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

And then one final time you will return the cheese to the microwave for 35 seconds, and squeeze off whatever whey you can after it has cooled enough to handle.  (I didn’t picture this step yet again because I trust you’ve got it down by now.)  🙂

After you’ve squeezed out all the whey, stretch and knead the cheese a few times, like so.  At this time, knead in the salt so that the cheese has awesome flavor (as opposed to zero flavor… which is what you’ll get if you leave it out.)  You can also knead in other spices/herbs if you want to.  Garlic, basil, sundried tomatoes, Italian seasoning, all would be delicious!

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

Then roll the cheese under itself until it forms a neat ball.

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

And submerge it in ice water until it is completely cool.  (If you are not eating this right away, store it submerged in water or oil in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.)

Making Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog

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And that’s it!  It is now ready to serve!

And check this out!  From that whole gallon of milk… this is how much whey we extracted from the curds to use as a protein supplement this week!  I seriously can’t believe this much was left over.

Whey left over from homemade mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

And now… feast your eyes upon THIS!

Homemade Fresh Mozzarella >> Pretty/Hungry Blog~

This stuff is DIVINE served with pesto and garden tomatoes (with a drizzle of Balsamic vinegar.)  Out of this world!  I especially love the taste and texture of it melted.  We threw a few slices on a homemade baguette and toasted them up under the broiler with a sprinkle of Italian seasoning.  To-die-for!

Homemade Fresh Mozzarella~

And I can’t wait to try this stuff in homemade calzones!  That is what Chris wants for his birthday meal… but let’s be honest, it’ll be just as much MY gift as his.  Yum Yum and Yum!

And did I mention how much more affordable this is than store-bought mozzarella?  I did?  Well let me mention that again.  This cost me maybe $4 to make… and for that four dollars we got a scrumptious hunk of cheese and almost a GALLON of whey protein to drink all week.  (Protein shakes can cost anywhere from $1-$3 for just a 12 oz bottle!)

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I hope this post will inspire you to try something new.  Mozzarella was not nearly as difficult to make as I used to think!  And what a good feeling it was to enjoy the fruits of our labor this evening for dinner.  I can’t wait to make it again!

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. emily cheatham permalink
    August 23, 2013 1:06 pm

    Truly amazing, you are, Carissa. I loved the couple pictures in there of Chris’s big man hands. I’m used to only seeing yours on the blog!

  2. Kimmy permalink
    August 23, 2013 2:34 pm

    This is so awesome! You’re so talented. Great job friend!

  3. August 24, 2013 6:54 am

    This is a great tutorial! My best friend just started making his own homemade mozzarella and is super excited about it. I might just have to try it now:)

  4. August 24, 2013 7:56 am

    Great tutorial with wonderful details to go along with the photos. VERY helpful!

  5. September 5, 2013 11:14 pm

    I’m so happy I stumbled across your blog! My boyfriend and I made mozzarella last night, and it was so fun! And Yummy 🙂

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