My quest to conquer the art of homemade mozzarella was really the result of some irresponsible YouTubing. Some random clickity clicks and my latent dairy affinity was piqued.
There are thousands of variations on making mozzarella, and before I knew it I had become one of those freaks reading page after page of mozzarella instructionals and watching unattractive housewives or dairy farmers making mozzarella. I knew I had reached a low point when I caught myself staring numbly at a goat teat being milked.
I tried a few recipes and was met with crushing failure each f***ing time. I've come to realize that anything depending on the environment significantly alters the wait time in recipes. From waiting for bread to rise to getting a "clean break" on cheese, it can take 4-5 times longer, and you should never use time as a metric. After learning this the hard way and having buckets of whey from failed mozzarella ventures, I finally settled on the recipe from the Korean website where I had bought my rennet.
If you're reading this, you may not speak Korean. So I translated the recipe and it actually worked. You may laugh at some of the analogies in the translation like "a minispoon is the size of an ear pick." I hope you have some impeccably clean ear picks lying around.
The great thing about this recipe is that it's a small-batch recipe so if you fail, you won't end up with useless gallons of whey and curdled milk. Whey can be used to make pizza dough and bread. Failed mozzarella curds can make ricotta.
Pasteurized Milk vs. Ultra-pasteurized Milk
To make any cheese, you need to use pasteurized milk and not ultra-pasteurized milk. In Korea, the two brands that are just pasteurized are Denmark Milk and Pasteur Milk. I cover this in more detail in my blog about how to make yogurt.
Ingredients and Equipment
.03 g of rennet (1/2 minispoon, which is the size of an ear pick)
milk A 3g (1/2 teaspoon) room temperature
milk B 900ml (4 1/2 cups)
citric Acid 1.5 g (1/8 teaspoon)
salt .7 g (1/8 teaspoon)
heavy saucepan with lid
total time: 2 -5 hours
heavy saucepan with lid
total time: 2 -5 hours
Using your minispoon/ear pick, dissolve the rennet in milk A (1/2 teaspoon). I didn't have an earpick, so I used the plastic thing on the milk cap seal. Wait 30 minutes.
Pour milk B (4.5 cups) into a pot, and heat to 32°C. If you're using a gas range to heat your milk, stop heating at 27°C because the milk will continue climbing in temperature to 32°C.
When the milk is at 32°C, pour in the citric acid. Try to sprinkle it in evenly so it's distributed well. Stir to dissolve the acid. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Stir in the rennet and milk A solution into milk B. Stir for two minutes.
Then put the lid on and let it set for 30 minutes. Don't jostle the pot. You're trying to achieve a "clean break" which is when the milk sets to a soondubu (soft tofu) consistency. Basically, it will be like a gelatinous milk blob. If you put your finger into it, the curd should envelop your finger and when you pull it out, you should be able to lift a chunk out. The recipe said this should take 30 minutes, but for me, it took 3 hours or so. I've seen some recipes just leave it overnight. It's always better to wait than to move on to the next step prematurely.
Line a colander with a cheesecloth. There are two options for initially draining the whey. First, pour the curds and whey into the cheesecloth and let it drain. Be gentle. The second option is to use a slotted spoon and gently spoon the curds into the cheesecloth.
To help with the draining, gather the ends of the cheesecloth so you have a bag o' curd. Then, kind of gently jostle the curds around and massage the bag.
The whey will drain out and the volume of stuff in your cheesebag will decrease significantly.
Try to get out as much whey as you can until you can something resembling a solid mass of curds.
At this point, throw it in the microwave for 1 minute. You'll see that your mozzarella ball will have released more whey.
Drain off the whey using a wooden spoon. The cheese will be very hot.
Microwave in 20-30 second increments 2-3 times until the cheese is no longer peeing whey. The cheese will still be kind of crumbly. It's time to knead. I recommend using gloves. The cheese gets really hot. If you want a hard mozzarella so you can grate it, knead for longer. If you want a soft mozzarella, just barely knead. Don't over-knead of the mozzarella will get tough and rubbery.
If the cheese gets dry and stiff, microwave it for 20-30 seconds. Do this until the cheese reaches a "stretch" stage.
Then it's mozzarella. Manipulate it into a round ball.
You can drop it into some cold water to "set" it. I just plopped mine into some brine (half whey and half water with a few healthy pinches of salt). Consume the mozzarella within a few days. I made mine into pizza.