Homemade cheese from your own kitchen? Why not! This mozzarella recipe literally takes 30 minutes (or, if you have a couple of small helpers, a shade over the 45 minute side of things) and when you’re finished, you’ll have two glorious balls of mozzarella to slice up for pizza, incorporate into stacked pancake dishes and, ideally, eat as part of a basil-flecked tomato salad while sitting outside in summer sunshine.
A thermometer is the one piece of special equipment that you need for this. I used my sweet/jam thermometer that I got from The Kitchen Dresser, an impulse buy when ordering the (essential!) gingerbread house mould last Christmas. I prefer to depend on my own eye for jam but have to say the thermometer also comes in quite useful if you ever want to make your own Beer Butterscotch. Ahem.
An clean pair of rubber gloves are useful when it comes to kneading the cheese. The mozzarella gets really hot after its been through the microwave, even when you’re wearing the the gloves.
The other things you need to have lined up beforehand are:
- citric acid – easily found in your local chemist or you may already have it on hand for Elderflower Cordial; and
- rennet – I’ve seen it for sale on www.homebrewwest.ie or, if you have a friendly local cheesemaker, they might be willing to give you some.
That’s it. Just think: homemade cheese in less than the time that it would take you to go on a trip to the supermarket. Always a winner for me.
I used a normal 2 litre carton of whole milk from the shop and it worked perfectly. This is something that I’d love to try with milk that hasn’t been homogenised. If you get the opportunity, let me know how you get on.
60mls unchlorinated water. My water comes from the mains so, as when making sourdough, I leave the water to sit in a cup overnight
3/4 teaspoon citric acid
10 drops or 1/8 teaspoon rennet
2 litres of milk
1/2 teaspoon Irish sea salt
Pour half of the water into each of two small bowls or cups and dissolve the citric acid in one and the rennet in the other. Don’t mix them up!
Pour the milk into a large saucepan, add the citric acid solution and mix thoroughly. Clip a sugar thermometer on to the side of the pan and start to heat it gently.
When the milk reaches 88°F (just over 30°C) it should start to curdle. Pour the rennet solution across the top of the milk, slowly stirring it in.
Continue to heat the milk until the temperature reads 105°F (40°C) then turn off the heat. Allow to stand for a few minutes. The curd will start to pull away from sides of the saucepan and the whey should be clear – if it looks milky, then wait another few minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, put the curd into a microwavable bowl. Pour off as much whey as possible and reserve for other recipes.
Microwave the curd on high for 1 minute, pour off the whey. Knead the cheese while it’s hot – this is where the rubber gloves come in. It will need to go back in the microwave twice more, for 30 seconds each time, kneading and draining each time.
The last time it comes out of the microwave, you should be able to knead and stretch it like breaddough. Sprinkle over the salt while kneading and work it into the cheese. It should be smooth, elastic and shiny. Roll it into balls. Best eaten when warm or store, covered in whey, in the fridge – but not for too long.
Yield: 2 x 100g balls approx and about 800mls of whey, which is perfect for making ricotta or bread and pizza dough.
I’ve had this recipe bookmarked in Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle since I first came across it in 2007. When unpacking stacks of cookbooks, I discovered that I also have the original source – Ricki Carroll’s Home Cheesemaking. This recipe is adapted from both of those books, both of which I’d recommend to anyone interested in making their own food.