Making your own mozzarella is marvelous! Heather and I took a cheese class to learn last year, which is great for teaching you some awesome techniques and methods, but you don't have to do that yourself. With this post and a bit of practice, you'll soon be making mozzarella that tastes so delicious, you'll never want that store bought stuff again. If you've ever dreamed of making your own mozzarella or simply want to try something new, I've got some fantastic tips for you!
1. Make Sure You Have the Right Tools
Making your own mozzarella successfully hinges on the right tools. Many of them you probably have, but you may need to purchase some of them, or borrow them from a friend if you can. Essential items include a stainless steel or enamel pot that holds at least 8 quarts (realize that active pots, such as cast iron or aluminum, won't work); a digital thermometer; measuring cups; a strainer; a good, sharp knife; several glass bowls in various sizes; a microwave; and a slotted spoon. Optionally, you might want a dipping strainer or some nylon netting if you prefer that.
2. Get the Freshest Ingredients
Believe it or not, you don't need a lot of ingredients to make mozzarella. Basically, you need milk, a Rennet tablet, salt, water, and citric acid. So, as you can see, freshness isn't applicable with everything. However, you do definitely want your milk to be fresh – as in, if you can get it soon after it leaves the cow, that's awesome. Keep in mind, however, that you'll need more citric acid for raw or super fresh milk. Otherwise, try to stick to whole milk, or at least 2 percent. And try to buy your citric acid on or close to the day you'll be making the cheese.
3. The Temperature Matters
You have to be very precise when you're making your mozzarella. Specifically, when you heat the milk, you have to make sure it reaches the appropriate degrees when you take its temperature. There are a few times you'll have to measure the temperature, so just be careful – and vigilant! Once it starts getting hot, you need to check it very carefully, because going over will not yield very awesome results.
4. But Be Patient
When we took our class, several of our fellow students ran into trouble right off the bat. They got impatient and ended up heating up their milk way too fast. If you do this, you won't end up with the appropriate curds, you'll get a mushy mess that tastes about as appetizing as it looks.
5. No, Be Really Patient
I'm serious. Although theoretically easy to make, mozzarella takes a lot of time. There are lots of steps involved, many of them quite repetitious: stirring, stirring, more stirring, then some cutting, forming, squeezing, melting – you get the idea. Don't skip any steps. You might end up with edible cheese, but it won't be pretty, and that's half the fun of making your own mozzarella.
6. No, It Doesn't Look like That
You'll reach a point where your mozzarella looks all loose and mushy and curd-like, and you'll think you messed up somewhere. You didn't, I promise. Remember, making mozzarella is a process, and every step has its specific purpose. You will end up with delicious, stretchy balls of mozzarella that you can be proud of, admire, and enjoy.
7. Don't Get Discouraged
That being said, don't get discouraged if things don't go right the first time – or the second time. This process does take practice, but once you get it down, you've got it for life. Besides, generally, unless you really do mess up badly along the way, you can still enjoy what you've made – you just might not want to show anyone yet, that's all.
Making your own mozzarella is surprisingly easy once you get the hang of it – and if you're a fan of this soft, moist, stretchy cheese, you know that there's nothing as delicious as fresh mozzarella! Well, it doesn't get any fresher than this, so what are you waiting for? If you've got any other tips, I'd love to hear them! Since there are so many recipes as well, feel free to share your favorites with other readers!