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Make Mozzarella Cheese in 30 mins. No Microwave Needed.

photo: creative commons/ paPisc on Flickr

I was surprised at how easy it was to make low-cost fresh mozzarella cheese in only 30mins and without the dreaded microwave oven. As long as you follow the directions closely your cheese should turn out wonderfully. I learned how to do this at the local farmers market with the guidance of Debra from Cheeses Loves You who teach cheese making.

The basic principal is to gradually heat the milk until it is warm, and then add rennet which helps the milk to separate or curdle. The curd is the milk solids and the whey is the watery yellowish liquid, which is by the way nutritious and too good to throw out. Mozzarella is formed from heating the curd, stretching and making a ball with your hands. The remaining whey can be added to soups, curries, dough, or anything that requires a slightly salted liquid. Apparently animals like dogs and chickens and pigs will gobble it up too.

Ingredients

To make a fist sized ball of Mozzarella which is plenty for a pizza or two you will need:

  • 2 L milk (I like to use raw, organic, unpasteurised, unhomogenised but if you can’t get that, organic unhomogenised is best!)
  • 3/4 tsp citric acid (I have yet to try lemon juice instead)
  • 1/8th tsp rennet (I use non-animal rennet which you can buy at Cheeselinks, or do a google search)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup unchlorinated, boiled water that has cooled

Equipment

You will need some basic equipment to make mozzarella, chances are you already have most of it in your kitchen!

  • large pot with lid
  • large spoon with holes or slots (or cheescloth or chux cloth and colander to separate the curd from the whey)
  • thermometer
  • long knife
  • clean/new rubber gloves
  • clock or timer

To start, bring your 2L milk to 13℃ in the pot

Add 3/4 tsp citric acid dissolved in 1/4 cup cooled boiled water, stir for one minute

While stirring bring the temperature to 32℃ then take off heat

Add rennet at 1/8th tsp in 1/4 cup cooled unclorinated boiled water, stir 2 minutes (I went a little wrong here and put to much rennet in. The result was instant curdling of the milk rather than a slow gradual thickening.)

Cover milk with a lid and leave for 5 minutes

Check the curd, it should look like custard with a clear separation between the curd and the whey. If the curd is too soft then leave a few more minutes

Cut curd into 2cm cubes, and while GENTLY stirring, move the curd around until it reaches 40℃

photo: vanillaicing.typepad.com

Remove from the heat and continue stirring slowly for 2 minutes

Scoop curd out with slotted spoon and put into a small bowl (or drain through cheesecloth or chux cloth and colander to separate the curd from the whey. We want the curd!) Press the curd together gently with your hands to form a ball and pour off as much whey as possible

photo: blog.belm.com

Heat the whey to 80℃ then take off heat, add a sprinkle of salt and then add the curd lump to the whey to soften. After a min or two when it is soft, put your rubber gloves on (the whey and curd will be hot!) and remove the curd and knead and stretch it. If it snaps and breaks heat it in the 80℃ hot whey again. We want it to stretch without breaking easily (just like stringy pizza cheese).

photo: creative commons/ Ed Chadwick on Flickr

Once you are happy with the stretchy texture, form a neat ball and either eat warm or drop into ice-cold water for an hour. Take out of the water and wrap in plastic or gladwrap to put in your fridge.

It’s ready, and should be eaten within a week.

Ways To Use The Whey By-Product

After making cheese, you will be left with a whole lot of salted whey. I don’t like to waste anything, and since there is still a lot of goodness in it (including whey protein), I try to incorporate the whey into other meals.

  • Soup – Instead of adding water, add whey.
  • Risotto – Adding whey to risotto as it is cooking gives it a beautiful creaminess.
  • Pasta – I’ve cooked pasta in whey, and it gives the cooked pasta so much more flavour than water.
  • Lacto-Fermented Vegetables – Adding a few tablespoons of fresh whey to your mason jars of sauerkrauts and ferments eliminates the need for so much salt, so they taste better.
  • Tenderise Meats – I’ve heard marinating meats such as chicken, pork or beef in whey overnight will make it succulent and tender when cooked.
  • Breads & Baking - Add whey to bread doughs, pizza bases and savoury baking instead of water or milk.
  • Animal Feed – Your pets and farm animals will gulp it down.

If you keep it in the fridge, it should last a while. Just give it the ‘sniff’ test before using but for best results use it within a few days. If you use your whey differently, I would love to hear how!

Recipe from Home Cheese Making

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