How to Make Mozzarella

We like to use our own, freshly made Mozzarella around here. Like making bread, this requires some time and attention to details. Ha! but it is much worth the effort.

It is a matter of process. Once you know the process, the task becomes almost meditative. You fall into its rhythm. The process becomes a marker of time, stretching it smoothly beyond the sense of frenzy that so easily accompanies our days in this modern life. Making cheese, and making bread, give a new pace to the day.

While Mozzarella can be made with everyday kitchen equipment, there are slight variations to the process, mostly depending on the whims of the chef. For instance, non-homogenized milk works especially well (for any cheese-making), but it is entirely possible to make delightful Mozzarella with whole milk from the grocery store. Here is a simple recipe you can try at home.

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You will need: A large stainless steel pot that can hold 1 gallon; a long, non-serrated knife and a large spoon; a strainer and tea towel; a large stainless steel or glass bowl; a food thermometer. Ingredients include: 1 gallon of cool milk, 1 1/4 tsp citric acid powder, 1/4 tsp liquid rennin (rennet) and 1/2 cup cool water (to be used 1/4 cup at a time). 1/2 cup sea salt. Rennin is an enzyme. Here in Jeffersonville check with The Farm Store for your ingredients.

Put the milk in the 1-gallon capacity stainless steel pot. Place the citric acid powder in 1/4 cup of the cool water to dissolve it prior to stirring it into the milk. On the stove top, bring the milk to 91 degrees. Remove from heat. Mix the rennin into the remaining 1/4 cup of cool water. Add to the milk and stir for a few seconds. Allow to set for 15 to 20 minutes.

By then the milk should have coagulated into curd. It will be firm, with a jello-like consistency, allowing you to break through the surface with your finger. Use the knife to cut the curd into 1 inch cubes (right into the pot). Allow to rest for 10 minutes more.

Prepare a sink of hot water. Place the pot, containing the curds, into the sink. Allow curd temperature to rise to 108 degrees. Maintain this temperature for at least 35 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. You do not want the curds to matt at this time.

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Place the strainer into the large bowl and cover it with the tea towel. Pour the curds into the towel and allow to drain for 30 minutes. This is where variations in practices occur. Some people like to bring the towel up around the curds, forming a pouch. This is shut with twine and hung over a large pot for up to a full night. Drainage time will affect the consistency of the cheese as it allows more whey to drain out. Again, this is a matter of taste.

Once the curds have drained, return them to the large stainless steel pot and cut into 1 inch cubes one more time. Separately, heat enough water to cover the curds. You want the water to reach 155 degrees. Then, pour this water over the curds and use your large spoon to work it in, stretching the curds until they form a large ball. Some people like to use two spoons. Discover your own style. We are almost done.

On the side, prepare a brine solution by mixing the sea salt with enough cool water to cover the cheese in its current pot. Pour this solution over the cheese. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Drain.

Voilà! Your very own Mozzarella recipe, courtesy of JPD!

(Your Mozzarella will keep for up to two weeks)

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