Making your own cheese at home is a lot easier than you may think. In just 30 minutes you can make your own, homemade, Fresh Mozzarella From Scratch!
Homemade cheese!! It's the pinnacle of from scratch cooking that may seem scary or daunting, but truly, is much easier than you might think! Our Fresh Mozzarella From Scratch is the first cheese that we started making when this SFS journey started in 2013!
When it comes to cheese, it's my choice over chocolate. Never eat chocolate again? Ugh, ok. Never eat cheese again? You'll have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands! So being about to make our own fresh mozzarella? Game-changing!
Even better when it comes to at-home cheesemaking? Super simple ingredients.
- Milk - Whole milk is the best in creating the best texture, but you can use 2% or 1%. The more fat, the creamier the texture. The less fat, the moe kind of rubbery the texture will be.
- Rennet - Vegetable or Animal Rennet can be used and it comes from the enzyme rennin. This is key to cheese making as it is what helps separate the water and solid parts of the milk - basically it's what creates those big beautiful curds. We have made homemade mozzarella with both vegetable and animal and both work just as well.
- Citric Acid - This is also key to creating curds. You could also use lemon juice, but citric acid does not have a taste, so it wont impart a lemon flavor to your mozzarella like adding lemon juice will. 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
- Salt - Added in the end while you're stretching your cheese, to add flavor!
Here's everything you'll need:
Large Stainless Steel Pot - It's important when cheese making to use a pot made of non-reactive metal like glass, or enameled pots. That means don't use aluminum and cast-iron pots because the acids used can actually corrode the metals of aluminum and cast-iron pots and add a metallic flavor to the cheese. Also, be sure that your pot has a nice thick/heavy bottom. This will help prevent your milk from burning.
Cheesecloth - This will make your life much easier when draining your curds. You can use just a colander or seive for homemade mozzarella, but trust me, a cheesecloth will make it much easier. Plus, it's needed for when you start making other cheeses, too! When looking to buy a cheese cloth, be sure that they're labeled either "butter muslin" or Grade 90# (which means they have 90 threads per square inch). Often ones that you find in your local grocery store are single use and do not hav a fine weave and therefore won't strain well.
Slotted Spoon - You will need this to be able to collect the cheese curds.
Large Spatula - This is what you'll need to cut your curds. We find that using a straight icing spatula is best. It's long enough to get to the bottom of the pan and who doesn't love multiple uses for one tool?
Thermometer - Because cheesemaking is very dependent upon bringing your milk to certain temperatures, a good thermometer is key. We absolutely love our instant read thermometer, but there are a variety of other food grade thermometers you can use.
Mixing Bowl / Pour Spout Measuring Cups - This is what we use to prep the rennet and the citric acid before adding them to the milk.
Food Grade Gloves - While not 100% necessary, this will help protect your hands while you're stretching your cheese.
Take Milk Out of Fridge: The first thing I always do when making cheese is take the milk out of the fridge to bring it up to room temp. While I'm prepping everything else, the milk can sit out because it takes much longer to heat straight out of the fridge (cold) than room temp milk.
Food Safety: One of the most important things to do when making cheese is to make sure all of your equipment is clean and sterilized.
- Pot: Fill your sink with dish detergent and hot water and let your pot sit for 5 minutes before rinsing and letting it dry.
- Utensils: You can add them to boiling water for 5 minutes or running them through the dishwasher on high heat (some even have a sterilize setting) should do the trick.
- Cheesecloth: Be sure to use a new one or a freshly washed one.
Prepare the Citric Acid and Rennet: While your equipment is being sterilized and milk is coming up to temp, you can get your citric acid and rennet ready by mixing each with some water in a small bowl or measuring cup with a pour spout.
Slowly Heat Milk: Add your milk and citric acid with water to your pot and heat slowly over medium heat and bring it up to 90 degrees. This is why it's so important to use a thermometer because there's no time frame of how long this will take, as it all depends on the temperature of the milk when you add it to your pot. Again, that's why taking it out of the fridge beforehand to warm up a bit, it will heat to 90 degrees faster.
Add the Rennet: Now it's time to add the rennet mixed with water, remove the pot from the heat, and cover it and let it rest for 5 minutes.
Cut the Curds: Ahh science! In just those 5 minutes you'll notice that your milk has thickened into curds! Now is when you can use your spatula to cut your curds before returning them to heat to slowly heat up to 105 degrees.
Drain the Curds: Look at those big beautiful curds that you can use your slotted spoon to drain into your cheesecloth-lined colander.
TIP: Do your best to gather those curds with your slotted spoon, and don't pour it all into the cheesecloth, as this will allow it to drain much more quickly.
Drain: Gather those cheesecloth edges and give it a good squeeze to drain out that whey.
These next steps are all about getting the last of the liquid out of the cheese and heating it back up so that you can get to the fun part - the stretching!
Add to bowl and Microwave: This will help release some more of the whey to pour out and then repeat.
This is when you can use the food-grade gloves because the cheese will get hot.
Stretch! Definitely the best part of making homemade Fresh Mozzarella From Scratch!
While it's warm it's super stretchy! However, resist the urge to stretch (or play) with that fun cheese, too much.
Add Salt: This is when you add salt to the cheese as well by folding it in on a cutting board.
Shape! And finally, shaped into a classic fresh mozzarella ball!
For some Fresh Mozzarella From Scratch!
Mozzarella Making Tips
Clean your equipment. This is really important for cheesemaking to make sure you don't introduce any bacteria to the process.
Scoop the curds. Use that slotted spoon to gently scoop the curds into the cheesecloth, don't pour it all in. Not only will it take a lot longer to drain it all, but most likely it won't fit into your cheesecloth. While I can understand not wanting to leave any curds behind, it's ok to just get as much as your can.
Heat the Curds. This is a really important step to allow for stretching of the cheese. You want to bring the temp of the curds to about 135 degrees, but no more than 170, as they will begin to dissolve.
Don't Stretch Too Much. While it's super fun to do, you don't want to stretch the cheese too much. This will cause too much moisture to leave the cheese and then it will become rubbery.
Melty Mozzarella. One of the biggest complaints about homemade mozzarella is that it's not as melty as the ones in the store. This is typically because too much moisture has been removed from the cheese. You don't want to stretch the cheese too much, just give it a few stretches before forming it into a ball.
Storing Fresh Mozzarella. Do not store fresh mozzarella in water or whey. This will make it slimy. Fresh Mozzarella made this way is really meant to be eaten immediately or within 1 day. Instead, wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge.
Using Fresh Mozzarella
Because this fresh mozzarella recipe creates a fresh cheese that is meant to be used pretty immediately, here are delicious ways you can plan to use it!
Caprese. Probably the absolute best way to highlight a fresh, homemade mozzarella cheese - and easy! A slice of fresh tomato, a slice of fresh cheese, fresh basil, and a drizzle of olive oil is all you need.
Topped with Herbs and Olive Oil. Serve it on a plate, top with fresh herbs like basil, oregano, salt, and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Then slice and serve.
Other Cheeses To Make
Now that you've made mozzarella, you can make these other soft cheese from home, too!
Then use a combination of cream cheese and feta to make Whipped Feta!
- large stainless steal heavy bottom pot
- colander / sieve
- 1 gallon whole milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid mixed with 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennent mixed with 1 cup water
- 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Take milk out of the fridge to start to come up to room temperate.
- Steralize all of your equipment. Then set up a large pot or bowl up with cheesecloth lined colander and set aside.
- Prepare the citric acid by mixing it with 1/4 cup of water in a small bowl or pyrek dish. Prepare rennet by adding it to 1 cup water. Set asie.
- Add milk and citric acid and water to pot, stri, and heat over medium until temperature reaches 90 degrees.
- Remove pot from heat, add rennet and water and give a gentle mix. Cover pot and let sit for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, soft curds should have formed. With a long spatula or knife, cut the curds into 1 inch squares.
- Turn burner to medium and return pot to reheat. Gently stir until the whey is 105 degrees. Remove from heat.
- Using a slotted spoon, gently scoop the curds from pot into the cheesecloth.
- Repeat with all curds. We don't recommend pouring all of the whey into the cheesecloth, just because it will take time too much time to drain all of that liquid, and it likely won't fit into your cheesecloth. Just do your best to scoop as much as you can out.
- Gently gather the ends of the cheesecloth and gently squeeze out some of the liquid.
- Transfer cheese to a medium microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave for 30-60 seconds to heat the curds to about 135 degrees, but be careful to not heat it too much as if the temp goes over 170 degrees, the curds will fall apart. See recipe notes about how long to microwave, based upon the strength of your microwave.
- Using food-grade gloves, gently press down on the microwaved cheese to release more of the whey. Drain whey, and return to microwave and heat again for another 30 seconds. S
- Drain whey again and heat for another 30 seconds.
- By now the cheese should be getting smoother. Do one final drain of the whey and then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and gently knead cheese. Sprinkle with another 1/2 teaspoon and use your hands to begin to stretch cheese a couple of times.
- Form cheese into a ball and chill immediately in a bowl of ice water to cool for 5 minutes.
- Slice and serve immediately.
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