Did you know you can make mozzarella in your own kitchen? It’s so easy, you’ll wonder how you ever went so long without it! You only need three main ingredients:
Milk: One gallon of any kind! Whole, 2%, skim—whatever you want. Just skip using milk that’s been ultra-high-temperature (UHT) pasteurized; it loses the ability to solidify into curds.
Citric acid: 1½ teaspoons. This is the stuff that makes you go cross-eyed if you bite into a lemon! You can buy it at your grocer in powdered form specifically for recipes like this. It’s what helps the milk acidify and coagulate.
Rennet: ¼ teaspoon or ¼ of a tablet. It’s nowhere near as scary as it sounds! Vegetable rennet is available at grocery stores in tablet and liquid form, and it sets the proteins in the milk to form curds.
You’ll also need water and salt, a non-reactive 5-quart pot, a long knife or offset spatula, a kitchen thermometer, a slotted spoon, a microwavable bowl and rubber gloves.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Prep work! Stir the 1½ teaspoons of citric acid into 1 cup of water until dissolved. In a separate bowl, combine the ¼ teaspoon or ¼ tablet of rennet with ¼ cup of water.
2. Pour the entire gallon of milk into a large, non-reactive pot on the stove. Stir in the citric acid mixture and heat on medium-high until it’s 90°F. Remove from heat and and stir in the rennet mixture. Stop the liquid motion with the spoon, cover the pot, and let it sit for five minutes. Walk away!
3. Cut those curds. The mixture should be loosely set, like a custard or tofu. Still liquid? Let it set for another 5 minutes. Use a long knife or offset spatula to cut through the curds in horizontal and vertical lines in a 1-inch checkerboard pattern, cutting all the way to the bottom of the pot.
4. Put the pot back on the stove on medium heat, warming the mix up to 105°F and stirring gently once in awhile to avoid breaking up the curds too much. Remove the pan from heat and let it rest for five minutes, stirring intermittently.
5. Using a slotted spoon, remove the curd from the whey (the remaining liquid in the pot!) and transfer it to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute, drain off the excess whey, and put on the rubber gloves to press the curd, which will drain more whey. Really knead and stretch it! Then microwave it on high for 35 seconds more.
6. Sprinkle the curd with 1 teaspoon of salt, then continue to stretch and fold until it becomes tight, firm and glossy. When it does, shape it into mozzarella! Make one large ball, a few smaller balls, or a handful of bocconcini—tiny mozzarella balls!
7. Enjoy immediately, or place in a container with 1 cup of whey and 1 teaspoon of salt. It will keep for a week in the fridge!