Homemade mozzarella cheese is a little bit “This Little House on the Prairie” even for me. But I love it. It’s a 30 minute process and it’s fun. My inspiration to make cheese at home was from a book by Barbara Kingsolver called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. In it Barbara documents the year that she and her family spent eating only food that was grown or produced locally. The description of her home and gardens were inspiring but I know that with my gardening skills a similar project would be an exercise in frustration. I read the book during the winter and it made me ache for the time when my CSA starts. I’ve vowed to start preserving the fresh fruits and vegetables that are available during the summer even if it means freezing things so I don’t fall back on the lackluster produce that is in the stores in the winter.
Basically cheese is preserved milk. When I read about Barbara’s family traveling to Massachusetts to attend a cheesemaking workshop I thought to myself “Hey, I could do that too… I live in Massachusetts.” I did a quick search for “Cheese Queen” and was brought to the New England Cheesemaking Company website where I looked for the workshops. They were all filled so I ended up ordering a cheesemaking kit. Thankfully my obsessive checking of the website got me into a workshop scheduled in September but in the meantime I’m having a blast making mozzarella cheese at home.
It’s really a very easy process but you’ll need to use the recipe that’s included with the kit since it includes precise temperatures. Heat your milk with citric acid added.
Then add the rennet and allow the curd to form. Cut the curd and then heat it again.
Separate the whey from the curds. Now you’ve got cheese but it needs to be heated again and stretched.
While you stretch it you add some salt for flavor. (“Cheese” gloves are recommended because the cheese is quite hot. Just buy a pair of rubber gloves that you’ll only use to make cheese.)
Depending on how firm you want the cheese you can reheat and stretch the cheese several more times to get a firmer, drier result.
The final step is to shape it and cool it down in a water bath and then an ice bath. Wrapped tightly this cheese keeps in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.
We use slices of this mozzarella cheese on homemade pizza with great success. It’s difficult to grate but if you freeze it slightly it’s a little bit easier.