I seriously had so much fun doing this for our dinner the other night.
I made a Spinach Alfredo pizza and wanted to try my hand making a fresh mozzarella cheese for the topping. While it was fun and a lot quicker than I thought it would be, I don’t recommend trying to do cheese-making while simultaneously making pizza dough and alfredo sauce. It got a little chaotic in my small kitchen!
30 Minute Mozzarella
1 gallon of pasteurized whole milk (do NOT use ultra-pasturized milk – you won’t end up with mozzarella)
1 1/2 tsp citric acid
1 cup water
Rennet: either 1/4 tsp liquid rennet or 1/4 rennet tablet dissolved in 1/4 cup of cool, un-chlorinated water
*Optional* 1 tsp cheese salt
- Fully dissolve the citric acid in the cup of water.
- Pour the milk into a large pot and stir vigorously while you add the citric acid mixture.
- Put the pot over medium low heat and stir gently until milk heats to 90˚F. This takes about 10 minutes. I found that I didn’t need to stir continuously, only every 2 minutes or so. Make sure the heat isn’t too high so that the milk doesn’t scorch.
- Turn off the heat, remove the pot from the burner and stir in the rennet solution with an up-and-down motion for about 25 seconds or so.
- Cover the pot and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- This is where it started to get fun. Check the milk (or at this point, it would be more accurately called curd) to see if the curd and the whey have separated. The white part, the curd, should be the texture of custard and the whey should be a clear yellow-ey liquid. If the whey is still milky-white, let it sit for a few more minutes.
- Using a long knife that can reach the bottom of the pot, cut the curd into 1/2″ cubes. Make 1/2″ slices going vertically and then 1/2″ slices going horizontally.
- Gently stir the curds while you put the pot once again on medium-low heat until the mixture reaches 105˚F. You’ll notice more and more separation as the curds and whey get warmer.
- Take the pot off the heat and continue to gently stir for 2-5 more minutes. The longer you do this, the firmer the cheese you’ll end up with.
- Pour off the whey from the curds and then put the curds into a microwavable bowl. (I thought I’d be smart and use my pasta pot to drain the whey but it didn’t work at all. The curds kept plugging up the draining holes. It was much easier to use a spoon to hold the curds back while I drained the whey.)
- Microwave the curds for 1 minute. Drain off excess whey. Fold the curds over gently with your spoon or your hand.
- Microwave for 30 seconds. Drain again and if you’d like, add the cheese salt at this point. Then knead the curd with your hands. This is hot, fast work – in order for the curds to stretch, they need to be hot.
- **Update 1/18/2013** If you find that the curds are not stretching but rather breaking and look more like ricotta, you might need to try switching milk brands. I have had 2 batches back to back that did this. This means that the dairy heated the milk up a little too high during the pasteurization process. The cheese is still perfectly usable – just not so pretty. Take note on which brands work/do not work for you!
- Stretch and knead the cheese quickly until it is smooth and elastic. Microwave for another 30 seconds if the cool and begin breaking.
- When the cheese is shiny and smooth, roll it into small balls to eat immediately or cooled in an ice water bath for about 10 minutes to cool the interior of the balls.