Homemade Mozzarella 1.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

DIY Feb 18, 2015

Creamy, with great melting qualities, homemade mozzarella takes about 40 minutes to make at home. Any grocery store milk will work for this recipe, but the better the milk, the better the flavor of the cheese.

For this recipe, use only non-chlorinated water; see the NOTE, below. You’ll need an instant-read thermometer and food-safe gloves (for handling the hot cheese).

This cheese is best consumed on the day it’s made.

Make Ahead: If you need to de-chlorinate the water, you’ll need to leave it out at room temperature at least overnight and up to 24 hours.

Where to Buy: Look for rennet at Latin grocery stores, at stores that carry beermaking supplies or online. Citric acid is available in the canning section of grocery and hardware stores.


Servings:
1 pound

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 1 pound

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid (see headnote)
  • 1 1/4 cups cool, chlorine-free water (see NOTE)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or 1/4 tablet) rennet (see headnote)
  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 or 3 thin slices prosciutto (see VARIATIONS; optional)

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Directions

Dissolve the citric acid in 1 cup of the chlorine-free water. In a separate container, dissolve the rennet in the remaining 1/4 cup of chlorine-free water.

Pour the milk into a large, deep stainless-steel pot. Stir in the dissolved citric acid-water mixture. Heat to 90 degrees over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Use a spoon or skimmer to stir in the dissolved rennet/water mixture for about 30 seconds, gently moving the milk from the bottom of the pot to the top without breaking the surface of the liquid. Cover the pot and let it sit for 10 minutes, during which time a somewhat solid mass of curds will form.

Use a long stainless-steel palette knife (with a rounded, flat blade) or similar knife to slice into the curd mass, pressing it to one side. The whey will be clear and yellowish, and the cut should be clean. If the whey is cloudy or the curd is crumbly, cover the pot for another 10 minutes. Cut the curds into 1-inch segments, slicing from top to bottom then side to side in a checkboard pattern. Let the curds sit for 5 minutes, so they can express whey.

Heat the curds to 105 degrees while stirring lazily, about 5 minutes, then spoon into a metal, ceramic or glass bowl. Let them rest for 10 minutes.

(At this point, the curds may be used to make Homemade Stracciatella; see related recipe.)

Press against the curd mass; pour any resulting whey back into the pot. Place the pot of whey over medium heat; bring to 180 degrees.

The cheese will not stretch until it registers135 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Heat the curds in the whey as follows: Pull a baseball-size hunk of the curds from the bowl. Use a skimmer to dip them into the hot whey for 30 seconds.

Don food-safe gloves, because you'll be handling very hot cheese. Remove the curds from the skimmer and pull the curds, fold, pull and fold. They will not quite stretch, and they might tear.

Place the curds back into the whey for 30 seconds, remove and pull the curds again. They should be shiny and hold together like taffy. Work quickly to pull, fold and pull, repeating only one or two times until the mozzarella feels supple, then form a circle with thumb and forefinger and press the mass through to form a sphere of cheese. Twist to detach, place on a plate and continue to form the remaining curds in the same way. Salt the cheese to your liking.

VARIATIONS: Shape the curds into bocconcini (1-inch balls) or string cheese (4-inch rope); or pull them flat and layer with prosciutto, then roll into a log. Serve the last, sliced, as an appetizer.

NOTE: To remove chlorine from water, let the water sit out, uncovered, at least overnight and up to 24 hours. The chlorine, which is a gas, will dissipate. If the water has been treated with chloramine, which much of the District's water is, that chemical will not dissipate the same way. But the addition of citric acid in this recipe effectively eliminates chloramine, and we found in testing that the presence of chloramine did not adversely affect the cheesemaking process.

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Recipe Source

From Cathy Barrow, the author of “Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving” (W.W. Norton, 2014).

Tested by Cathy Barrow.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.