If you know anything about me, you know I LOVE to cook food for my family. I especially love getting back to basics and learning to make food from scratch to fulfill some sort of pioneer woman calling inside of me haha! I got really passionate about soft cheese making about 5 or 6 years ago when I took a class at one of my local CSA farms here in, San Diego. It was a pretty intense class and I kept thinking to myself how these relatively easy to understand steps could be broken down so much more simply to make it fun. The class was intimidated from the start and I thought to myself “This is going to be so hard, I’m never going to figure it out in my own kitchen!” My goodness was I wrong. Soft cheesemaking is not only easy, but it’s honestly so much fun!
Most of you are going to have many of the tools necessary for making your own cheese in your house, but just in case you don’t I have added a few links to products you can purchase on Amazon. I love Amazon almost as much as I love making cheese, the 2-day Prime shipping is worth every penny. Here is a link to sign up for a a free trial of Amazon Prime if you don’t already have one to take advantage of their 2-day free shipping: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial
Clicking on the links to the right of each item on the list will take you straight to the same exact products I purchased and used when I made the cheese in the picture below. Doesn’t it look delicious!?
Here is my easy to follow recipe for Mozzarella Cheese. This will make about 1-2 pounds of cheese. Enjoy!
1 Gallon of Whole Cows or Goats Milk (cannot be ultra pasteurized)
1 & 1/2 Tsp of Citric Acid: Ball Citric Acid
1/4 Tablet or 1 Tsp of Liquid Rennet:Organic Liquid Vegetable Rennet, 2oz.
Fine salt (sea or iodized works fine)
Large Aluminum Stock Pot (can’t be coated in teflon):The stock pot I use
Cheese Curd Ladle (or skimmer/drainer spoon): Cuisinart Stainless Steel Skimmer
Thick Latex Gloves
Candy Thermometer: This candy thermometer is amazing!
Strainer and Cheese Cloth: Ultra Fine 100% Cotton Cheesecloth
Bowl of Ice Water
Herbs for Decorating & Flavoring (fresh basil works best)
- Pour your gallon of milk into your stock pot and add 1 & 1/2 tsp of citric acid.
- With medium heat, cook the milk to exactly 90 degrees on the stove.
- Remove your stock pot from the stove once the milk reaches 90 degrees and add 1 tsp of liquid rennet. (If you are using a tablet, dissolve 1/4 of a rennet tablet in a tiny bit of water before adding to the milk)
- Stir the liquid rennet or dissolved tablet into the milk for about 30 seconds. An up and down motion with your spoon works best instead of a swirling motion.
- Let the milk stand covered and untouched for at least 5 minutes then take a look at your milk. The milk should look firm or a bit like unsettled jello. Give the pot a jiggle to find out if the milk has begun to curd, and if it hasn’t you can let the milk sit for longer.
- Once the curds begin to firm you want to “cut” them. Take a long bread knife or long thin spatula and slice the milk in about 1″ slices (just like you would a loaf of bread). Make sure you reach your knife all the way to the bottom and each side of the pot, cutting the curds all the way through.
- Once you cut the first slices go ahead and cut the curds into the opposite direction to form a “checkerboard” also about 1″ slices. Once the curds are cut you’ll see the whey (yellow liquid) start to pool away from the curd (thicker part of the milk).
- Now put your cut curds and whey back on the burner and cook to 105 degrees.
- Once the curds and whey hit 105 degrees remove the pot from the stove and drain your curds. The easiest way to drain your curds is to line a basic pasta strainer with cheese cloth and set that strainer on top of another large pot to catch the whey. Make sure you save the whey!
- Drain as much of the whey from the curds as you can by lightly squeezing the curds inside the cheesecloth. You want the curds to be pretty solid, almost like a crumbling cream cheese, but not too dry. If you’re having trouble draining, it also helps to hang a ball of the cheese inside the cheesecloth above a bowl or pot to let the whey naturally drip away from the curds.
- Once the curds have been drained, form small balls of the curds with your hands. The size of the curds don’t matter, its totally up to your preference. You can even make one large ball if you’d like, although I wouldn’t recommend that for your first time.
- Cook the whey in your original pot until it reaches 175 degrees then gently scoop the balls of curd using your cheese curd ladle/skimmer and gently set the ball into the cooking whey. Let it cook for a few minutes.
- Time to put on your thick gloves!
- Use a cheese curd ladle/skimmer to scoop the ball of curd from the cooking whey into your glove and begin to fold and mold the curds into itself like you would with bread. After 3-4 folds attempt to stretch the curd like you would silly putty then fold it back into itself.
- Sprinkle the curd with a few shakes of salt and continue to fold and stretch. If your curds don’t want to stretch after a few folds, submerge the ball back into the cooking whey for 2 minutes then remove, salt, fold, and stretch again. Try not to over cook, over stretch, or over salt! You’ll only need a few minutes per ball to make it stretch, otherwise they will turn into a crumbling mess!
- Once they stretch a decent amount (it doesn’t have to be stretch armstrong, think stringy cheese) and the cheese begins to shine, roll the curds back into a ball and submerge them into a bowl of ice water for 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle them with dried herbs or fresh basil and enjoy your fresh cheese!
That wasn’t so bad right?! Tell me how it worked for you in the comments!