With all the fresh milk we have now I have been learning how to make many different milk products. One of our favorites has been mozzarella cheese. Here’s how we make it:
Put 2 gallons of whole raw milk in a large pot over med-low heat. Add 4 teaspoons of citric acid powder, stir until fully dissolved.
Keep over the med-low heat until the temperature reaches 88 degrees farenheit.
While you are waiting for the milk to reach 88 degrees, put 1/2 cup distilled water in the refrigerator to cool. Once your milk gets close to the 88 degrees, put 1/2 teaspoon rennet into your 1/2 cup of chilled water from the refrigerator.
Once the milk reaches 88 degrees, pour in the rennet/water mixture, stirring constantly as you do. Keep stirring constantly until the milk reaches 104-106 degrees. The milk will go through several changes and stages as you stir and wait for the temperature to rise.
Once it reaches 104, remove it from the heat, cover it, and let it sit for 15 minutes.
After it has rested, us a slotted spoon to remove the curds and put them into a microwave-safe glass dish.
Then, put your dish into the microwave for 1 minute on normal heat. It will come out looking like it is starting to melt together, like this:
Next, put it back into the microwave for another minute. While it is in there set up plastic wrap to wrap your finished cheese. It will come out of the microwave looking more melted. Press and pour off any more whey. At this point you must work somewhat quickly as it gets harder to work with the more it cools.
With gloved hands I knead it a bit until it starts to get a shine almost like taffy. Then, for our families preferences, I split it into two. One of the halves I make into a ball of cheese, which has multiple uses. I put it on the plastic wrap and quickly wrap it up to hold the shape and seal it.
I take the other half and split it into 4-6 pieces, which I stretch into about 12 inch long ropes and roll in plastic wrap. These become string cheese sticks for the kids. I forgot to get a picture of them – sorry. They are not smooth and perfect like store-bought ones, but they do string and the kids love them.
I leave all the cheese wrapped (sealed tight) on the counter to cool before I move it into the refrigerator. It is also delicious to eat it while it is still warm. When the string cheese is cooled on the counter, I cut it into our preferred lengths and then put it into a zip-loc bag in the refrigerator.
My personal favorite way to eat mozzarella, and one of our favorite appetizers we use for get-togethers is:
Cut mozz into 1/2 inch cubes. Take a toothpick and slide the cube of cheese onto it, then add a small piece of fresh basil, and then a cherry tomato. You can eat as-is or drizzle balsamic vinaigrette over it. YUM!