It’s kind of a farm rule that if someone wants to cook a dish that includes mozzarella cheese, I’m up for making the homemade cheese. Why? Besides it being delicious, it’s easy to make and can be made in less than 30 minutes.
Mozzarella is the one cheese that brings immediate gratification. Most other cheeses you have to wait, sometimes days, not to mention months to finish.
It’s good on so many dishes like zucchini lasagne, pasta lasagne, caprese salad, eggplant Parmesan, summer sandwiches, and pizza.
I make my mozzarella with whole, raw cow milk that is usually less than a week old. Older milk won’t set right and the freshest milk you should leave for drinking.
I follow the recipe from Ricki Carroll’s wonderful book, “Home Cheese Making.”
Pour 2 gallons of raw milk in a large stainless steel stock pot. Add 1 tablespoon of citric acid dissolved in 3/4 cup of cool, non-chlorinated water. Heat the milk to 90 degrees F and you will be able to see tiny strings of milk clinging to the slotted stainless steel spoon.
Add just a touch less than 1/2 teaspoon of liquid rennet into 1/2 cup of cool, non-chlorinated water.
Move the spoon in a gentle up and down fashion (not the traditional stir method). If you use too much rennet on raw milk the cheese will be harder and squeak when you eat it.
Continue to heat the milk up to 105 degrees F until you can no longer insert your spoon and the milk starts to thicken and pull away from the sides of the pot. Put the lid on and wait up to five minutes.
Scoop out the curds into a big stainless steel bowl. When necessary pour out the whey as this will start to leave the curds quickly. Pour off some of the whey into a stainless steel sauce pan and add 1/4 cup of sea salt (non-iodized) and heat to 175 degrees F.
Once all of the curds are in the bowl, gently scoop a handful out at a time and cup into your hands gently squeezing out the whey. Drop the ball of cheese into the heated, salted water. Use your spoon to move it around for several seconds and to melt it consistently.
Remove the curd with the spoon and knead the whey from it. This process is to remove as much whey from the cheese as possible. This is done by stretching the cheese with your hands. The cheese will be hot and you can wear rubber gloves. If the cheese breaks apart easily, reheat it.
You will begin to see the curds turn into mozzarella as you stretch and reheat. Once all of the whey is removed, the cheese will stretch easily and you will see a slight shine to it. You can fold it under or tie it in a knot.
It’s best when eaten warm and fresh. But if you need it for a dish later, just put in a container (use no liquid) in the refrigerator. It will last up to a week.