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Saturday, February 27, 2010

30 minute Mozzarella

There is nothing like fresh Mozzarella. It's creamy and melty and oh so good. And, surprisingly, it's something you can make at home. This recipe makes enough for 2-3 pizzas with lots of cheese.

You will need a few supplies. I bought mine at I bought the Cheesemaking kit for Mozzarella and Ricotta, but you could just get rennet tablets and citric acid. You'll need to have the following:

A large stainless steel pot
A food thermometer that goes down to 90 degrees*
A gallon of fresh milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
A strainer
A spoon
Salt or herbs for flavoring
Cheesecloth (optional)*
Rennet Tablets*
Citric Acid*

*these are included in the kit

Directions for Mozzarella

1. Start by getting out all your supplies.

2. Mix 1 cup chlorine free water and 1 1/2 tsp. citric acid.

3. Mix 1/4 cup chlorine free water and 1/4 rennet tablet (just break the tablet into 4 pieces). Stir until dissolved.

4. Add one gallon of milk to the pot. And don't worry, this is going to make a lot of cheese. For the price of a gallon of milk, you will get a large amount of mozzarella. For the price of one gallon of milk (plus your rennet and citric acid), you would probably spend about $6-$8 at the store.

5. Stir in your citric acid mixture vigorously.

6. Heat the milk to 90 degrees while continuing to stir.

7. Remove the pot from the burner and add the rennet solution with an up and down motion for about 30 seconds.

8. Cover the pot and leave it undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Check the curd. It should be thick enough to slice with a knife. If it's not thick enough yet, just put the lid back on and wait another couple of minutes. 
If it didn't form a curd... you're in trouble. (The only time that happened to me was when I accidentally mixed up the rennet and the water solutions.)

9. Cut the curd with a knife. If you look closely, you can see the little slices all throughout. Make sure you use a knife that goes all the way down.

10. Place the pot back on the stove and heat to 110 degrees while slowly moving the curds around with your spoon.

11. Take off the burner and continue slowly stirring for 2-5 minutes. (More time makes a firmer cheese.)

12. Drain the cheese. You can use a cheesecloth inside your strainer to really catch all the little curds. I prefer working without the cheesecloth, but you do lose some of the curds that way.
The next step involves heating the cheese. You can use the microwave or the waterbath method. I use the waterbath method because I'm a little afraid of the microwave. I'm not exactly sure what it does, nutrition-wise, to the food. But that's a subject for another day. If you want to use the microwave, skip to microwave method, below.

13. Heat a pot of boiling water to 185 degrees. 

14. Dip the colander full of cheese into the hot water a few times and let the water drain off. It's easier to work with if you do half the batch at a time.

15. Stir it around with a spoon. Once it starts getting stringy and stretchable, you'll know it's hot enough. If using salt or herbs, add these in now. 

16. Pull it like taffy. Pull and fold over until the cheese gets shiny. Shape into desired shape: a braid, a ball bite size pieces, even string cheese.

17. Put the cheese in ice water for 10 minutes to cool. This will also help it hold its shape.

18. Refrigerate or eat!

Alternate microwave method:
(You may want to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from hot spots.)
Ladle your curds into a microwaveable bowl, draining off as much whey as possible.
Microwave for 1 minute.
Fold the curds into one piece and add 1 Tbsp. salt or herbs (optional).
Microwave for another 30 seconds. Drain and stretch. If it isn't hot enough, microwave for 30 seconds more. 
Proceed with step 16 above.

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