In recent years, David and I have dabbled lightly into the world of cheese making. We started with a ricotta, dare I say the easiest type of cheese to make, and have since begun making homemade, fresh mozzarella cheese. I wouldn’t call it a complicated process, though it does take some time. That said, it’s one of the fastest (a couple hours) and simplest cheeses to make in your own kitchen and I encourage everyone to give it a go!
To begin, you’ll need some whole milk (if you can find raw milk, even better — we’re using store bought milk, though), citric acid and vegetable rennet. The latter two can be found at a health food store and/or Amazon for very cheap.
To begin, you’ll need:
- a gallon of whole milk (if you can find raw milk, even better — we’re using store bought milk, though)
- 1.5 tsp. citric acid
- 1/4 tsp. vegetable rennet
The latter two can be found at a health food store and/or Amazon for very cheap. You’ll also want a big pot, a thermometer and some straining materials (a sifting spoon and strainer will do).
Step 1: Pour your gallon of milk into your stock pot.
Step 2: Combine 1/4 cup of water with the 1.5 tsp. of citric acid and stir until dissolved.
Step 3: Add the citric acid solution to your milk and heat on medium until the milk/water/citric acid solution reads 90 degrees.
Step 4: While your milk mixture is heating up, combine your 1/4 tsp. of vegetable rennet with 1 cup of water. Some people use the tablet variety, which can work, but the liquid rennet is best.
Step 5: Once your milk reaches 90 degrees, take it off the heat and add your vegetable rennet/water solution. Stir well and then place a lid on top.
Step 6: Allow the milk to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes, or however long it takes for it to firm up. It should appear yogurt-esque in texture and consistency (see below):
Step 7: Using a spatula or knife, divide the (very soft) cheese into sections and make sure none of it is sticking too firmly to the sides. Then place your pot back on the stove and heat it up to 105 degrees. Heating it up will allow the curd to better separate from the whey.
Step 8: After the milk has reached 105 degrees, use a slotted spoon to transfer the curd/cheese into another bowl. We use a pasta strainer since there is often still some liquid that needs to be sifted out, even after transferring with a slotted spoon.
Step 9: Continue transferring until you have a loose glob of cheese (see below).
Step 10: You can place that glob into the microwave for 15 seconds at a time to get even more liquid out. The more you microwave, the drier the cheese will become. A few little bursts is usually plenty.
Step 11: Roll your cheese into a ball. You can even season it if you like! We like to keep it simple with sea salt and cracked black pepper, but your options are limitless!
And that’s it! Eat it fresh, shave it and put it on some homemade pizza, gift it to friends or do whatever you want with it. For storage, we usually place it in an airtight container with the tiniest bit of whey to keep it fresh and moist.
Speaking of whey, you’ll have a lot left. Instead of throwing it on the drain, consider adding it to protein drinks or shakes, substitute it for water in bread recipes, in your vegetable stock, or pour it in the garden. You can freeze it for up to 6 months.