Friday, March 8, 2013

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

Making homemade mozzarella takes only half an hour from start to finish, and from a gallon of milk you'll get about a pound of delicious fresh cheese! It's relatively easy and really fun. Plus, you'll end up with at least three quarts of whey left over.  

Read to the bottom for a list of some of the many different ways to use whey.


1 gallon whole milk, any kind except ultra-pasteurized (full fat milk makes a softer, richer cheese; lower fat makes a harder, chewier cheese like string cheese)
1 teaspoon citric acid (at our grocery this is available in the bulk foods aisle) 
¼ rennet tablet
¼ cup cool water
2 teaspoons cheese salt (sea salt flakes)

Additional Supplies:

A large pot
Slotted spoon
Large microwave safe bowl


  • Pour milk into the large pot and affix your thermometer to the side of the pot. (I don't have a thermometer with a clip, so I was holding it in the milk when I wasn't taking photographs.)
  • Sprinkle the citric acid powder over the milk and stir to combine.
  • Turn the heat on medium and heat the milk to 90°F. Stir the milk intermittently while it's heating to prevent the it from burning.

  • While the milk is heating, dissolve the ¼ rennet tablet in the ¼ cup of cool water. You may have to stir it a bit to get the tablet to dissolve completely.
  • When the milk reaches 90°, turn off the heat and pour the rennet over the slotted spoon into the milk. Stir for 30 seconds, then let it sit undisturbed for about 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, the milk should look like thick gelatin. Cut it into a grid pattern and then stir.
  • Use your slotted spoon to remove as much of the curd (the milk solids) as you can from the pot while leaving as much as the whey (the yellowish liquid) behind in the pot. Scoop the curd into a microwave safe bowl.
  • Pour back as much of the leftover whey from the bowl with the cheese curds as you can (I ended up using a strainer to help this process along) then heat in the microwave for a minute.
  • Remove from the microwave, stir, and drain off the liquid again. Return to the microwave for another 30 seconds.
  • Repeat the last step (perhaps only once more, maybe twice) until the cheese curds begin to stick together and look more stringy.
  • Add the cheese salt (a little bit at a time) and stir to incorporate it evenly throughout the cheese. Heat the cheese in the microwave for another 30 seconds. At this point the cheese should be completely stuck together and really stretchy.
  • Stretch the cheese with your hands until it gets shiny and smooth. The cheese will be really hot, so wear kitchen gloves to protect your hands.
  • When the cheese gets shiny, shape it into a log (or a round, or a puppy—whatever you're into) with your hands.
  • Place your log of cheese into a bowl of ice water for about 5 minutes to let it cool down and solidify.
  • Remove from the water, slice, and eat!

If you happen to run into any trouble during your ventures into mozzarella-making, I can highly recommend the Mozzarella FAQ from Stuff happens, but these folks are cheese experts!

So now you've got a pound of fresh cheese, and you've also got a heck of a lot of whey left over from the cheese-making process. I poured the whey from this batch of mozzarella back into the milk jug (after washing it out) for temporary storage.

But whatcha gonna do with all that whey? (Don't throw it away!)

A few uses for whey:

(For more ideas about what do do with whey, check out Farmcurious and The Prairie Homestead.)

And thanks also to several cheese tutorials I referenced when learning how to make mozzarella, including Heart, Hands, Home, and Simple Bites.

Six Ingredient Challenge buttonJoin the Six Ingredient Challenge hosted by Hobo Mama and Anktangle!

We're on a six-week path to eat more whole foods, guided by one simple rule: Buy foods with six ingredients or fewer. And we're blogging about our journey on the way.

To join in the Six Ingredient Challenge anytime during the six weeks, visit the sign-up page for a list of posts and to link up!

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