traditional mozzarella cheese on pizza

Traditional Mozzarella Cheese Recipe

Twenty Gallons. That’s how many gallons of milk that it took for me to come up with this traditional mozzarella cheese recipe. No one ever accused me of not being persevering. But in the end, I finally succeeded and was able to learn a new thing from my list of new things.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. It takes longer than you think. All those folks out there who claim to make mozzarella in 30 minutes know something that they’re not sharing in their recipes because try as I might- and I tried REALLY hard- I just couldn’t get a single quick recipe to work for me. Often I couldn’t even get the curds to form. In frustration, I wondered how could I be screwing up heating milk to an exact temperature, mixing in a couple things and setting a timer!!??? Seriously, it’s not rocket science.
  2. Junket rennet doesn’t work. The sweet ladies at the store said that it would, but they also know something they’re not sharing. I’ve learned that the composition is entirely different from real rennet and I couldn’t get it to work even increasing the amount from 5 to 10 fold! I also like liquid rennet because it is very easy to accurately measure.
  3. Exact temperature and exact timing is important. I set a timer that continuously reminded me that it went off. It’s so easy not to hear one that signals once and stops. There is nothing more frustrating than doing all of this work only to find at the final stage that your curds got too hot somewhere along the way and they just crumble into little ricotta like bits instead of melting.
  4. 160 degrees is really hot. It makes you want to cry, but then you remember that you’ve naturally birthed 5 children and lived through the abdominal surgery to bring another one into the world and you realize you can handle a few seconds of 160 degree water at a time. The pain sends one back to Google over and over again searching for a different stretching method. Finally, I found one a couple nights ago that works really well and is very painless!
  5. If you make cheese too much, it ceases to be fun. As I mentioned before, we got 61 gallons of milk last month which is obviously much more than we drink. Even with making cultures, buttermilk, and yogurt, there was still large amounts left after drinking. I couldn’t let it go to waste, so I’ve been making cheese about every other day, shredding it, and freezing it. It has become a burdensome, albeit necessary, chore. Kind of like cleaning the bathroom, but without all of the icky germs.

How to make traditional mozzarella cheese

This recipe is a compilation of several and the only one that worked well enough to get me a final product that one can call traditional mozzarella cheese. Should you decide to try it, I hope it works for you. A lot of it is practice and knowing what you’re looking for. 

supplies needed for making traditional mozzarella cheese
milk in a very large stockpot

Pour milk into a very large stockpot

citric acid being dissolved in a bowl of water
stirring milk in a pot to make cheese

Add citric acid and stir very thoroughly for a couple of minutes

Add the culture cubes. You can check HERE for mesophilic cultures.

timer sitting on a stove top

Slowly heat the milk over medium heat until it reaches a temperature of 90-91 degrees.Remove from heat.Allow to sit for an hour.*By the way, I have a new favorite thermometer…It’s digital, inexpensive, reads quickly, is self-calbrating, and has a 5 year warranty!! You can get your own here.  

rennt for cheese making

Add rennet and stir very thoroughly, yet gently with an up and down motion for about half a minute. Stop the motion of the liquid since the rennet will start the coagulation process immediately.

checking to see how the cheese curds break

Allow to sit for 15 minutes or until the curds form and break clean.

cutting the cheese curds that are in a pot on the stove

Cut into 1/2″ cubes.

letting the curd sit in a pot

Allow to sit for 5 minutes.

reheating cheese curds in a pot on the stove

Reheat the curds to 90-91 degrees, very gently stirring in an upward motion to evenly distribute the heat. This should only take a few minutes since the curds & whey will probably be less than 10 degrees cooler than that. Breaking up any large curds that weren’t cut.

heating the cheese curds in a pot
cooking the cheese curds in a pot

Cook the curds by allowing them to sit at temperature for 15 minutes. Stir, cutting curd clumps. Cover and sit for 20 additional minutes.Strain off whey- save for making ricotta cheese, soaking wheat, as a substitution for milk and water in bread, feeding to your chickens, etc…

letting curds sit in a bowl covered with a red cloth

Allow the curds to sit in the strainer overnight or 5-10 hours.  Alternately, you could hang the cheese in cheesecloth to drain out every last bit of whey. (I buy use this one. It has a nice close weave.) I find that with using the strainer, I need to flip the curd mass over ever now and then because it will get a little puddle of whey sitting in top.

acid testing the cheese curd

You can test to see if the acidity is developed by microwaving a cup of water for two minutes and then adding a small chunk of curd. Allow it to sit in the hot water for several seconds, remove and if it stretches and strings, it’s ready. If it breaks, allow it to sit longer.

testing the stretch of the traditional mozzarella cheese

Yep. It’s done and ready to move on to stretching.Heat a gallon of water to near boiling.Dissolve 1/2 c. canning/pickling salt in the water.
Turn off the heat and remove the curd mass from the strainer.

cutting cheese curds

Cut into 1/2″ cubes.
Working with a quarter of the cubes at a time, add them to the hot water and stir until they begin to melt together.

soft cheese curds

Scoop them out to a plate or bowl and quickly give them a knead or two to bring them all together.

stretching traditional mozzarella cheese

Stretch the cheese, pulling and folding it in half and then in half again.
Re-submerge in the water if necessary. (Remember this is where the salt is, and the salt adds flavor, so let it hang out for just a bit.) Repeat with the pulling and folding.

rolling and shaping traditional mozzarella cheese

When the cheese is shiny and taffy-like, shape it into a ball, briefly re-submerge in the hot water, remove and roll it around in your hands for a second to smooth out the wrinkles.

Run in under cold water to begin the cooling process and prevent the cheese from losing shape. Et voila! You have traditional mozzarella cheese! Once you get the process down, it’s really quite exhilarating to be able to produce your own dairy products.

I’ve been making a batch about every other day for a couple of weeks now and that is obviously way more than we can eat, so I have been grating it, tossing it with some flour to keep it from clumping and freezing it for when the cow has to be dried up this winter and we will be milk-less, but milking less.

traditional mozzarella cheese on pizza
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traditional mozzarella cheese on pizza

Traditional Mozzarella Cheese Recipe

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    Ingredients

    Scale
    • For Cheese:
    • 2 gallons whole milk
    • 2 1/2 t. citric acid, dissolved in 1/2 c. water
    • 4 oz. mesophilic culture cubes
    • 1/2 t. liquid rennet, dissolved in 1/2 c. water
    • For Stretching:
    • 1/2 c. salt (pickling salt is a lot like flake cheese salt and works well) dissolved in a gallon of hot water

    Instructions

    1. Pour milk into a very large stockpot
    2. Add citric acid and stir very thoroughly for a couple of minutes
    3. Add the culture cubes
    4. Slowly heat the milk over medium heat until it reaches a temperature of 90-91 degrees.
    5. Remove from heat.
    6. Allow to sit for an hour.
    7. Add rennet and stir very thoroughly, yet gently with an up and down motion for about half a minute. Stop the motion of the liquid since the rennet will start the coagulation process immediately.
    8. Allow to sit for 15 minutes or until the curds form and break clean.
    9. Cut into 1/2″ cubes.
    10. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
    11. Reheat the curds to 90-91 degrees, very gently stirring in an upward motion to evenly distribute the heat. This should only take a few minutes since the curds & whey will probably be less than 10 degrees cooler than that. Breaking up any large curds that weren’t cut.
    12. Cook the curds by allowing them to sit at temperature for 15 minutes. Stir, cutting curd clumps. Cover and sit for 20 additional minutes.
    13. Strain off whey.
    14. Allow the curds to sit in the strainer overnight or 5-10 hours. Alternately, you could hang the cheese in cheesecloth to drain out every last bit of whey. (I buy use this one. It has a nice close weave.) I find that with using the strainer, I need to flip the curd mass over ever now and then because it will get a little puddle of whey sitting in top.
    15. You can test to see if the acidity is developed by microwaving a cup of water for two minutes and then adding a small chunk of curd. Allow it to sit in the hot water for several seconds, remove and if it stretches and strings, it’s ready. If it breaks, allow it to sit longer.
    16. Heat a gallon of water to near boiling.
    17. Dissolve 1/2 c. canning/pickling salt in the water.
    18. Turn off the heat and remove the curd mass from the strainer.
    19. Cut into 1/2″ cubes.
    20. Working with a quarter of the cubes at a time, add them to the hot water and stir until they begin to melt together.
    21. Scoop them out to a plate or bowl and quickly give them a knead or two to bring them all together.
    22. Stretch the cheese, pulling and folding it in half and then in half again.
    23. Re-submerge in the water if necessary. (Remember this is where the salt is, and the salt adds flavor, so let it hang out for just a bit.) Repeat with the pulling and folding.
    24. When the cheese is shiny and taffy-like, shape it into a ball, briefly re-submerge in the hot water, remove and roll it around in your hands for a second to smooth out the wrinkles.
    25. Run in under cold water to begin the cooling process and prevent the cheese from losing shape.
    • Author: ReformationAcres

    Enjoy!

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