Making Mozzarella is not that time consuming but it does take three stages which can be completed in one day or could stretch over a three day period. If you start it one day, you should make sure to allow time to finish it the next day. If you forget to finish the cheese the next day, you can do it the next day after that but do not stretch any more days.
The following are detailed instructions on how to make Mozzarella Cheese.
However, I do not recommend that you try this as your first cheese attempt. Perhaps, start with something a little easier like Panir and work your way up to making this cheese.
- 2 to 3 1/2 gallons fresh goat milk (not homogenized) or raw, unpasteurized goat milk.
- 4 oz. Thermophillic culture (Lactobacillus helveticus)
- 1 1/4 tsp. citric acid per gallon of milk – (I use 4 tsp.)
- 1/4 tsp. calf lipase (mild “piccante”)
- 1/2 tsp. Liquid Rennet diluted in 1/2 Cup. cool water
- 1/2 C. Kosher salt
Pour the milk into a double boiler pot set up and add the citric acid. Warm the milk to 91°. Add the culture and lipase.
Stir well and let ripen, covered, for one hour.
Keeping the milk at 90° – 91° . Add the rennet and stir briskly for 15 seconds.
Cover and let set about 15 minutes, until the curd has “Set” or until you get a “clean break”. It takes less time to set than other cheese due to the high acidity. You can check for a clean break by sticking your knife, or thermometer, into the curd at an angle. Pull straight up out of the curd; if the curd breaks cleanly around the knife and whey runs into the crack that is made; you have a “clean break.” Once you see this for the first time, you will know just what I mean (*Note: Sometimes Mozzarella will set but doesn’t “break” quite the same as other cheeses, due to it’s desire to hold together and stretch, but you can definitely tell it is “set”).
Cut the curds into 1/4″ – 1/2″ pieces.
Cutting the curds can be the most confusing part, but just do not worry. Use a long knife held vertically and cut 1/4″- 1/2″ slices in the curds. Then turn the pot 90° and cut across in 1/4″- 1/2″ slices the other direction, making a kind of checkerboard pattern. Now hold the knife at a sideways 45° angle and retrace your cuts. Turn the pot 1/4 turn and retrace the cuts. Turn it again and cut and then one final turn and cut. By the last turn you probably would not be able to see the original cuts, but just do the best you can.
*Note: Often times the Mozzarella curds can be a little trickier to cut than other cheeses. It will want to move around in the pot while you try to cut it. You may need to hold it steady with your ladle as you cut it. Just do your best; I know one will know if it is not cut “perfect”.
Do not stir yet.
Let the curds rest for 10 minutes. The curds are delicate right after you cut them and they need to “harden up” a little bit before you stir them.
After 10 minutes stir the curds gently with a slotted ladle.
Cut any large curds you missed when cutting the first time.
When dealing with Mozzarella, you will find it really wants to “knit” back together, especially if the ripening temperature got a little too high or you let the curds sit too long before stirring them. You may need to cut the curds apart with your knife and or ladle. Cut the curds by using the ladle and the side of the pot or by holding the curds on the ladle and cutting with the knife.
Keep the curds at 90° – 91°, covered, for an hour or so, stirring occasionally during the first half hour. I call this “cooking” the curds, even though you really are not cooking them per say.
“Cooking” at a higher temperature will result in a cheese with less moisture or drier cheese that is more rubbery and will yield less cheese per batch (*Note: The higher the moisture of the cheese , it will yield more cheese out of the same amount of milk). You can experiment with this if you wish but just do not raise the temperature over 100° and raise the temperature slowly (not more than 2° every 5 minutes). Since this recipe works well for me so I do not experiment with it and just stick with holding the curds at 90° – 91°.
Stir once every 10 minutes of the first half hour of “cooking” for a total of three stirring sessions. After that, just let curd settle on the bottom of the pot where it will start to mat together.
Place a large colander lined with cheesecloth over a pot to catch the whey and pour the curds into the colander. If the cheese has become one lump, just reach in the pot and pull out the cheese and place it into the cheesecloth.
Tie up the ends of the cheesecloth and hang the curds to drain for 3 to 4 hours.
When the curd has drained for about 4 hours, remove it from the cheesecloth and “work” the curd OR, if you want to wait until the next day then place it in a gallon ziplock bag and place the bag in the fridge and “work” it the next day.
“Working” the curd:
You can test the curd to see if it is ready to be worked. Cut off a small piece and put it in some hot water (170° ). Keep feeling it and see if it begins to melt. Once it starts to melt, take it out and see if you can stretch it. If it stretches with no problem, you can go to the next step. If it breaks when you try to pull it, you have not developed enough acidity and the curd needs to “age” in the fridge a bit longer, maybe even until the next day.
When the curd is ready to be “worked”, heat a large pot of water to 170° and add 1/2 cup Kosher salt. If you are working the curd the same day you made it then heat up the whey and use the hot whey instead of water; this makes the cheese even tastier and the curds “work” better as well.
Cut the curd ball in half. You are going to work only one half of the cheese at a time.
Cut the curd into approximately 1″ cubes.
Carefully dump the cubed curds into the hot water or whey.
Let the curd cubes heat for a moment and carefully stir with a slotted flat type ladle.
Squeeze the cubes with your fingertips to test. When the cubes feel soft throughout (not solid in the middle) they are ready for the next step.
Since the curds will continue to soften while you are moving them to the bowl, just let the largest ones still be a just little bit “solid” on the inside.
There is a line between not soft enough to “work” well, and too soft and runny, which you will learn with practice. The curds need to be soft enough, or they will not “work” and pull easily but too runny means failure. DO NOT let the curds heat too long, because if they get too hot and runny, there is no going back. Do not allow anything to distract your attention if you are working your curds.
Carefully remove them with the ladle to a large bowl. These curds are hot, so be careful. Take note that as you begin to work the curds, if you are rough with them, the cream will start to separate out
At first the curds may looks runny, do not worry, just keep going. Carefully take the curds in your hands and form them together into one mass. Gently fold one side over on the other to get it all to come together. Do not squeeze the curd or all the cream will come out and the finished cheese will be dry.
Work the curds gently at first, this will help it retain it’s cream. Keep a bowl of very cold water close by to stick your hands in when they get too hot from the curds. This cools them off and makes holding the hot curds easier.
Once you have got the curds come together so that you can pick it up, then just let the curd do the work for awhile:
Hold one side of the curd lump and let the other end begin to stretch under it’s own weight. When it stretches, fold up the bottom to the top and let it stretch again. As it begins to stretch you can start to help it along a little by pulling on it slightly. Keep stretching and folding. As you “work” the curds, they will stretch easier and easier. You will be able to pull the curds longer and longer. It becomes like pulling taffy (Except for the fact your hands are burning from the hot curd).
You will notice the nature of the curds changing. It will start to become shiny, smooth and elastic. When you get to this point, you will know when you have about 10 to 15 good “pulls”
Place the cheese back in the water to warm them back for a moment.
Remove the cheese from the hot water and plop it into a mold.
Push the curd into the mold to even it up a bit. You do not have to get it perfect because the cheese is still very soft and it will even out as it rests and cools.
Repeat the “working of the curds” with the remaining curd.
Let the cheese cool at room temperature for a few hours.
Place the cheese into the fridge overnight.
The next day, pop the cheese out of the mold and you are ready to make pizza.
Put the cheese in a ziplock bag and store it in the fridge. It is ready to use right away, but is much better after a few days. Mozzarella is one of the few cheeses that freezes fairly well.