How My Cheese Came to Be
Making mozzarella cheese has been a learning experience. Since this was my first time making it, I learned [albeit the hard way] some things that I may not repeat on my second attempt. [If there is a second attempt].
What made me attempt it at all was a half gallon of whole milk left behind by a visit from my granddaughters. We bought it in anticipation of making chocolate syrup infused milk, but they were more inclined to juice bags. So be it.
At any rate, this half gallon of milk was just sitting there, and I had heard it was easy to make mozzarella cheese, so... here goes.
- 1/2 gallon milk
- 6 packages lemon powder
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablets junket rennet
- 1/4 cup water
I thought cheese making would be far more complicated, so I had never tried it.
I watched an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and watched someone make mozzarella.
I wasn't paying close attention, but the cheese practically made itself. I looked online and found some simplified instructions and since I had a bottle of whole milk in the fridge, I decided to be brave and waste it on my experimentation.
I needed some citric acid to curdle the milk. I had some lemon powder. I'm assuming vinegar would work as well.
I had to bring my milk, water, lemon to 90 degrees.
The milk and lemon water needs to be heated to 90 degrees. My milk is 45 - 55 degrees normally.
I started with a Candy thermometer, but realized that the bottom temperature notation was 100 degrees. That won't work. I found my electronic temperature probe and brought the milk to 90 degrees on medium heat. It heated quickly.
I needed water, and two things. One measuring cup held one cup of water, and the other held a quarter cup of water.
The cup of water needs 1 1/2 teaspoons of citric acid, which I found in 6 packages of Tru Lemon.
The smaller cup of water was used to dissolve 3 tablets of junket rennet. I think they sell regular rennet somewhere, but I had this box of regular junket rennet. It's not as effective so it required extra. If I would have just kept the stomach from a dead sheep, I would have been set...
90 degrees, remove from heat. Stir in rennet water. Wait for 30 seconds, then cover. Wait 5 minutes. If solid, go to the next step. If still liquid, set timer for 5 more minutes.
After Milk/Lemon Juice has Reached 90 Degrees - Remove from Heat and Add Rennet
At five minutes, check. If liquidy, do for 5 more minutes.
Another Five Minutes
You must cook the solidified mass after you cut it. You will need to use a long spatula to cut the hardening mass. A metal cookie turner worked well for me. The cheese needs to be cut into squares.
Once you have made four cuts in left to right and front to back directions, you must heat the cheese to 105 degrees. The cheese must be moved, not stirred, as you heat, so it doesn't settle to the bottom and as you heat, it will gather itself together.
Cut the cheese across, three cuts, then down, three cuts. I used a cookie spatula. Cut gently and cleanly to bottom of pan.
Heat to 135 Degrees and a Ball - Then Stop Heating
Heat mass to 105 degrees.
Remove chunks to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 60 seconds. Drain off liquid. I used green colander bowl. Retain fluid for future bread baking.
Microwave to 135 degrees.
I had my batch to 135 degrees and it was a nice ball-like consistency. Then, I microwaved it again, for good measure, and it went to liquid.
I should have quit heating it when it became a ball. The cheese at that point needs to be worked by kneading and folding.
Nicely Drained - Retain Cheese Water
Now, I drained the cheese water [whey] and retained it in a bowl for later use. Then, somewhere I learned that you must return the cheese after heating to 135 degrees, to the hot whey and stretch your cheese. I did not do this.
Place cheese curds in bowl and microwave for 60 seconds. Then, heat for 30 second increments until the ball reaches 135 degrees. Then, stop microwaving.
Well. I heated my cheese to 135 degrees, and it was a nice, stretchy ball. I put it in the microwave, again, for what I thought was good measure. Nope. I wrecked the consistency. It became a liquid again. Too much. Stop while you are ahead. 135 degrees. Stop.
I mean, it thickens up in the refrigerator, and becomes like a thick, cheese spread, but I don't think that was what I was after. On TV, the cheese was thick and stretch and the person cut it and put it on a cracker, and also heated it on bread with a tomato sauce for a pizza like topping.
Start testing the temperature. 60 seconds of microwaving, test for 135 degrees. No, then, microwave for 30 seconds. Test temperature.
Temperature reached? Stop microwaving.
Once it reached 135, it was stretchy. Additional microwaving did something weird to the cheese strands, and it returned to a liquid form. More like a cheese spread.
As you can see in the next picture, the cheese has a stretchy look to it. It had just reached 135 degrees.
I should have stopped microwaving it. I did not.
Char Milbrett (author) from Minnesota on May 11, 2021:
Iqra, thank you for your comment. Good luck making the cheese!
Iqra from East County on May 11, 2021:
Hi Char Milbrett, You shared an awesome recipe for making Mozzarella Cheese. I must try it. Thanks for sharing.