Learn how to make your own fresh mozzarella cheese in your own kitchen in just 30 minutes with this easy to follow, step-by-step tutorial.
Just a few weeks ago, I was inundated with 28 gallons of milk. While our family uses anywhere from 7-8 each week for drinking, we had extra from our raw milk farm since we collect orders from neighbors in our area so they can pick up locally instead of driving out to the farm.
While I love having raw milk, having 28 gallons was incredibly overwhelming. Our goal was to use the short dated gallons for making some mozzarella cheese. Then using the longer dated gallons for drinking.
Knowing how to make your own mozzarella cheese is a dangerous thing — considering that, at any moment, you can whip up cheese in just 30 minutes.
Then, you can turn around and use that incredible whey to make some pretty fantastic sourdough bread. Such a treat!
Mozzarella comes together quite fast compared to other cheese varieties (especially aged cheeses!) To get started, you basically warm a gallon of raw milk with citric acid, add rennet to allow that milk to separate into curds and then heat the mixture again, drain the whey, heat the mixture again, drain the whey, and then stretch and knead.
Voila – mozzarella!
Citric Acid, Rennet and Milk
Citric acid is a powdered form of the acid that is found in lemons and limes; it helps to coagulate the milk. Rennet can be tablet or liquid, and can also be found in vegetarian form. The job of the rennet is to set the proteins in the milk, that help them form and stretch into curds.
Avoid using milk that has been ultra high temperature pasteurized (most of what you find in any grocery store). This type of milk has denatured proteins from the pasteurization, and as a result, they will have a hard time solidifying into curds. If you normally buy organic milk, be aware that most of those grocery store type brands are also ultra high temperature (UHT) pasteurized so you may want to avoid that too.
If you are in a state that permits the sale of raw milk, you may want to find a local farm that allows you to purchase raw milk by the gallon. Our local raw milk farm encourages customers to visit the farm and see them milk; that transparency is invaluable!
30-Minute Mozzarella Cheese
Measure your citric acid and rennet. Add your citric acid to 1 C. of water and stir until dissolved. Then, measure out your rennet and stir into the 1/4 C. water you set aside, until dissolved.
Warm your Milk. Pour your milk into a non-reactive pot on the lowest heat. Stir in your citric acid solution. Bring the pot to 90 degrees F over low/medium – slow and steady is much better than doing it too fast and taking the risk of scorching the pot.
Add your Rennet. Once the milk reaches 90 degrees F, turn off the stove. Add your rennet and stir for 30 seconds. Stop stirring and cover the pot with a lid. Allow the pot to sit, undisturbed, for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, your milk within should look like a soft sponge. If not, allow to sit an additional 5 minutes.
Cut your Curds. Take a serrated knife, and slice into the curds horizontally and vertically – making rows and columns. Make sure your knife goes the entire way through the curds. You should have a checkerboard-type pattern. Allow the curds to rest for 5 minutes.
Cook those Curds. Put the pot on low heat and bring the curds up to 105 degrees F. Your curds will start to clump together. If you should happen to stir, be gentle – you don’t want those curds to break. Once they reach 105 degrees F, you will have a visible difference of curds and whey.
Turn off the Heat. Allow the curds to sit, undisturbed, for another 4-5 minutes.
Separate the Curds from the Whey. Using a slotted spoon, ladle those curds into a microwave safe dish, making sure to leave as much of the whey in the non-reactive pot as you can.
Microwave the Curds. Pop the microwave safe bowl with curds into the microwave for 60 seconds. Drain the whey. At this point, you will want to put on clean rubber cloves. Fold the curds over a few times/knead to distribute the heat.
Re-microwave the Curds to Temp. Pop the curds back into the microwave for twice more for 35 seconds each time. Dump the whey off between sessions. Before the second session knead in your salt to distribute evenly.
Salt your Cheese and Stretch. Sprinkle salt on your counter top, and squish the cheese into the salt to incorporate. Stretch the curds until they no longer break — we can stretch ours an arms distance apart during this time. Fold & stretch your curds but try not to over-handle either. Once they start to firm up and glisten, then it’s time to shape them. You can do one massive mozzarella ball, or several minis if you desire.
Store and enjoy. Once you shape your cheese, you will want to refrigerate for up to a week. Mix 1 C. of the whey with 1/2 – 1 tsp of salt (until dissolved) and set your cheese within. Refrigerate. If you wish to shred the mozzarella, allow it to dry out before you shred (or you will have a huge, gooey mess!) If I know I’m going to be shredding the cheese, I’ll usually wrap my fresh mozzarella tightly in plastic wrap and then refrigerate, then shred the following day. like to take my fresh mozzarella and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate – then shred the following day.
30-Minute Mozzarella Cheese
- 1.5 tsp citric acid dissolved in 1/2 C. cool water
- 1 gal raw milk avoid UHT pasteurized
- 1/4 tsp liquid rennet or 1/4 rennet tablet, diluted in 1/4 C. cool unchlorinated water
- 1 tsp cheese salt
Prepare the ingredients:
- Dissolve the citric acid in the cool water. Place your milk in a large pot. Mix your rennet with 1/4 C. cool water.
Heat the Milk:
- Gently heat the milk to 55 degrees F (13 degrees C) in a large pot. Add the citric acid and stir thoroughly to combine.
Add the Rennet:
- Heat the milk to 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the rennet with an up and down motion for 30 seconds. Cover the pot and allow to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
Cut the Curd:
- The curd should be easy to cut with a clear line separating curd and whey. If the curd is too soft, allow to sit for an additional 5 minutes. Cut the curd with a knife, like a checkerboard pattern. Make sure you cut to the bottom of the pot.
Heat the Curds:
- Place the pot on the stove, and heat the curds on low heat to 105 degrees F (or 40 degrees C). Gently move the curds around with a spoon as they heat. Remove the curds from the heat and stir for an additional 2-5 minutes (longer for a firmer cheese).
Drain the Curd:
- Scoop the curds out with a slotted spoon and place them in a microwave safe bowl. Pour off as much whey as possible into a separate pot.
Heat the Curds to Stretch:
- Microwave the curds on high for one minute. Drain off the whey. Knead the cheese gently to distribute the heat (wearing gloves helps for this).
- *If you do not have a microwave: Heat the reserved whey on the stove top to 175 degrees F. Add 1/4 C. cheese salt to the whey. Dip the mozzarella into the whey for several seconds until softened, then stretch. Use caution, the whey is hot!
Stretch and Salt:
- Microwave the curds twice more at 35 seconds each time. Dump the excess whey and add salt to taste after the second session. Knead the mozzarella until smooth and elastic - after the second microwave it should stretch.
- If the curds break and stop stretching, place back in the microwave to reheat for 15-20 second sessions.
Shape the Cheese:
- While the cheese is smooth, roll it into small balls and enjoy. Or shape and place in a bowl of ice water to drop the temp down quickly. Store in the refrigerator until ready to enjoy - you may choose to store in a tightly covered container, or covered by salted whey. Salted whey or water will soften the cheese over time.
Don’t Dump the Whey!
After you are done making cheese, don’t dump the whey! It makes delicious breads. In fact, you can use the whey to replace water in many of your favorite recipes.
My favorite way to use it is to make this super easy Whey Ciabatta Bread. You can switch things up and also use it to make this Whey Cinnamon Raisin Bread, or even Whey Sourdough Chocolate Chip Bread.
Or, freeze the whey in small ice cube trays and use to make your own cold process soap.
See a ton of other uses for whey – some of them might surprise you!