For some reason I decided to make my own cheese. I can’t say it was a complete success but I did learn a lot. For those of you that are thinking about getting into cheesemaking this is a description of my attempt to make home-made mozzarella cheese.
I came across the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. They have awesome guides to making all kinds of cheese. They claim the easiest cheese to make is mozzarella. So I closely followed their online guide. I am not going to present the recipe because I followed their guide exactly.
The only special ingredients you need for home-made mozzarella cheese are citric acid and rennet. Rennet is an enzyme found in the stomach of cows. However, New England Cheesemaking carries a vegetable version in tablet form.
I found citric acid at my local market and ordered 10 tablets of rennet from New England Cheesemaking for $6.50. For making a pound of mozzarella you only need a quarter of a tablet. So 10 tablets is enough to make 40 pounds of cheese.
The other key ingredient in making home-made mozzarella cheese is the milk. New England Cheesemaking not only has an entire guide to milk, they also have a list where you type in your zip code and the best milk suppliers in your area are listed.
The main thing you want in milk is to make sure it is not ultra-pasteurized. You want milk that is as low pasteurized as possible. Raw milk would be ideal but you really need to know you have a good source. Basically, pasteurization involves heating the milk which can kill the friendly bacteria you need. The lower milk has been heated the better.
The New England Cheesemaking site suggested I go to my nearby Jimbos….Naturally market and ideally buy their raw goats milk. Jimbos is a great store but it is also expensive. The goat milk they suggested at Jimbos was over $8 a quart. It takes a gallon to make a pound of cheese. At 4 quarts to a gallon that would come out to $32 for a pound of cheese.
The other milk they suggested was a raw milk. This was slightly more reasonable at $17 a gallon. But that is still some expensive home-made mozzarella cheese. I headed down the street to Sprouts. Sprouts also specializes in organic products but it is usually less expensive than Jimbos. Indeed I found the exact same raw milk at $16. However, this was still too much.
In the end I settled on a whole milk that was $3 a gallon. They strongly suggested whole milk and this was clearly not ultra-pasteurized. The cost of the other ingredients is under a quarter so this is a very reasonable price.
The recipe is described as 30-minute mozzarella. It took me closer to an hour. The big issue I had was getting it to form the thick curd they showed in the picture. I heated it to 90 degrees as instructed. However, I noticed the note that said “If you’re having problems with milk forming a proper curd, you may need to increase this temp to 95°F or even 100F.” Next time I will take heed of that note.
When it came to the stretching part, my home-made mozzarella cheese looked nothing like the picture. In the end, the cheese tasted pretty good, but I was not entirely happy with my first attempt.
I have enough rennet and citric acid to make another 39 pounds of cheese so I will try again. New England Cheesemaking has recipes for all types of cheese, but first I need to master mozzarella.