Making homemade cheese can be fun and rewarding. The kids love helping out because they can see the liquid change to solids right in front of their eyes! Around here we let them choose the “additives” to flavor our cheese. This recipe is for Garlic Herb Mozzarella and boy is it good!
There are a lot of methods on the internet while I don’t want to downplay the art of making cheese it really is a simple process and one that only uses a few items and not much time at all…Here is how I do it..
Equipment you will need:
Heavy bottom pan (stainless steel not aluminum)
Slotted stainless steel spoon
Stainless steel colander (you can use cheese cloth or a flour sack towel)
Microwave safe container
Plastic food wrap like Saran Wrap
1 gallon whole or 2% milk (don’t use ultra pasteurized)
1.5 tsp Citric Acid
1.25 cup water
1/4 tablet or tsp Rennet (enzyme)
Salt / Herbs
Slowly heat the milk in the heavy bottom pot over medium-low flame on the stove top. Stir the milk so you get no hot spots and don’t heat too fast or you will burn it on the bottom. Using the thermometer heat 1 gallon of milk to 85°. Once at this temperature mix 1.5 tsp of citric acid with one cup cool water and add to the milk. Stir gently for 20 seconds with a slotted spoon. Continue heating the milk until it reaches 100°. Dissolve 1/4 tablet rennet in 1/4 cup cool water or if using liquid rennet mix 1/4 tsp with 1/4 cup cool water. Add the rennet mixture to the milk and stir in a “up down” motion for roughly 30 seconds. You will now see the curd separating from the whey in the milk. Increase the heat of the milk to 105° and then turn off the stove and move the pan from the burner. Cover the pot and allow to sit for 10 to 12 minutes. You will see a yellowish liquid forming in the pan, this is your whey and a white solid which is your curd. At this point the curd will be forming a solid layer on top of the whey. You can test to see if the curd is fully formed by pressing a spoon in the top of the curd. The spoon should leave a indentation in the curd when fully formed.
Now it is time to drain the whey away from the curd. Take a knife and cut your curd into chunks. Using the slotted spoon remove the curd from the pot and place into the colander. Use your hand or the back of the slotted spoon gently press the curds to release as much whey as possible. Continue pressing and draining until you get very little whey left in the curds.
Move the curds from the colander to a microwave safe bowl and heat on high in your microwave for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and again press the curds to release as much whey as possible from the curds. Continue pressing the curds to draw the liquid whey out until almost no whey is left. Reheat the curds in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove and begin to knead the curd until it begins to take on a smooth appearance. At this point you are almost there, just a little stretching left to do…
Its important to stretch the curds to help them relax and form a ball. Stretching can only occur when the curds reach 135° so you may need to place it back in the microwave for 30 seconds on high. Take a temperature and once at 135° begin to stretch. Allow the curds to fold over on itself and make a ball. At this point I add the salt and herbs and continue stretching and folding in the seasoning. Don’t overdue it a 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 tsp pepper and 1 tsp Italian seasoning does just fine but add to your liking. Continue to stretch the curds and incorporate the herb mixture. Remember you can reheat the curds in the microwave to make stretching easier.
Form the curds into a smooth ball and wrap in plastic food wrap. I then will take aluminum foil and wrap it around the ball to help it hold its shape while cooling.
Remember to save that whey, there are so many uses for it from baking to added protein for your flock.