What You Need
1 gallon whole milk (preferably homogenized milk or fresh farm milk; low fat milk will work but the cheese will be drier and less flavorful)
1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup non chlorinated cool water (use 2 teaspoons if you are using raw milk)
1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet or 1/4 rennet tablet, diluted in 1/4 cup non chlorinated cool water
1 teaspoon cheese salt (optional)
A 6 to 8 quart, heavy non-aluminum pot (aluminum or cast iron will not work)
Cheesemaking or candy thermometer (must clearly read between 80 - 120 degrees F)
Heavy rubber gloves
A stainless steel or strong plastic slotted spoon
1. In a large, heavy non aluminum pot, heat the milk to 55 degrees, then stir in the diluted citric acid. Heat the milk to 90 degrees over medium low heat, it will start to curdle.
2. Gently stir in the diluted rennet with a scooping motion. While you are stirring, continue to heat the milk to 100 to 105 degrees. The curds will start to pull away from the pot, and the mixture will thicken dramatically.
3. The curds will be shiny and the consistency of yogurt. Once you see this, remove the curds with a slotted spoon to a bowl.
4. Heat the whey (without the curds) to 175 degrees. Add about 1/4 cup non-iodized salt to the whey. Keep the pot on a low burner to maintain that temperature. Divide the curds into two balls. Put one ball in the small strainer and dunk into the hot whey for about 5 seconds.
5. Remove it from the whey and knead the ball folding it over on itself &mdash try to get as much liquid out as you can. (If you have sensitive hands, you might need rubber gloves at this point.) Repeat this process 3 or 4 times with each ball. When the cheese stretches without breaking, it’s ready.
6. At this point you can roll it into little balls and eat warm, or you can add fresh herbs. If you are going to store it, submerge it in ice water for 30 minutes to bring the temperature down. After that, you can take it out of the water and place it in a covered container in the refrigerator, and it will keep for a week. (Don’t dump out the pot full of whey! It will last for a few weeks in the refrigerator and it’s great for making bread, or use as a base for soups or smoothies.)
Additional Notes: A big tip is to use local, low or non-processesed milk (also known as raw or unpasteurized milk). Ricki Carroll warns, "A problem is that milk is being shipped cross country after being processed by huge processing plants. In order to do this the milk must be processed at higher temps and then held at cold temps for long periods of time while going these long distances to markets. This is especially true for our so called 'organic milks.' Many of the milks not labeled as UP [Ultra Pasteurized] are in fact heat and cold damaged and will not make a proper cheese curd for this Mozzarella, if your cheese is not working use our dry milk powder and cream directions in the kit."
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Recipe posted with permission from The Seminal. Author, Alana Chernila, has her own food blog, Eating From the Ground Up, where she shares her own recipes and experiences of cooking at home (30-Minute Mozzarella can be found here). Original and more detailed recipe from Ricki Carroll's Home Cheese Making.
(Images: alanaclaire/The Seminal)