Homemade Mozzarella / Caprese Salad

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In my next life, I’d like to be a combination butcher / sommelier / cheese monger. Seems doable right? Those areas of the culinary world fascinate me and I’ve been trying here or there to pick things up.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Wine, Cheese, Butchery

I’d gladly butcher an animal nose to tail; you give me a whole hog and I’m your gal… I’ve been frequenting wine classes tasting everything from Croatian wines to Sicilian wines, devouring any and all information… and I dream of cheese plates; anyone for homemade ricotta? I’m getting there!

And so, working towards this future retirement plan, I decided a few weekends ago to make homemade mozzarella! Out of any cheese you can make at home, across the board, mozzarella is one people recommend for beginners– it’s simple and surprisingly quick.

I had bought a kit a while back that includes everything you’ll need for mozzarella at home minus the milk. The kit certainly helped too but you can purchase these ingredients relatively easily without it. And I can attest, this whole process took under an hour… It was like magic! (But more on that shortly)

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Homemade Mozzarella

To make mozzarella at home, you’ll need the following:

– gallon of milk (I used whole, unpasteurized milk)

– ¼ tsp liquid vegetable rennet

– 1½ tsp citric acid powder (either in powder or tablet form)

– kosher salt to taste

– 1¼ cup water

The secret to mozzarella I’ve realized is gentle heat and gentle stirring… They’re PYTs, you gotta be patient and let those curds and whey develop man!

First, dissolve the citric acid in ¼ cup of water in a separate bowl.  Once dissolved, add this mixture to the gallon of milk in a large pot. Warm to 90°F, stirring gently. (Having a thermometer is key for this!)

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Homemade Mozzarella

Once the milk has reached 90°F, remove the pot from the heat and gently stir in the rennet. Cover the pot and let sit undisturbed for five minutes. In this time, the milk will set, beginning to look and feel like tofu.

The curds and whey come together like that! You can feel the milk forming solids and thickening as you stir. It’s amazing! Cut this tofu-like substance into uniform curds, cutting a grid like pattern all the way down the bottom of the pot.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Homemade Mozzarella

Now you’ll want to cook the curds. Reheat the curds to 105°F, stirring slowly and gently. The curds will separate from the whey and once they do, remove from the heat. Continue to stir gently for five minutes.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Homemade Mozzarella

Here comes the strange part – microwaving the curds….There’s honestly a lot of chemistry and science involved, but I just do what I’m told and ta-da cheese! I won’t second-guess it.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Homemade Mozzarella  Separate the curds into a microwave safe bowl with a slotted spoon. Microwave the curds for one minute, draining off the whey. With rubber gloves, fold the curds a few times.

Continue to microwave the curds at 30 second intervals until they have reached an internal temperature of 135°F. This is the optimal temperature in order to stretch the mozzarella properly.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Homemade Mozzarella

Season the cheese and stretch and fold the curds. It should start to become firm and become glossy. Shape into one large ball or smaller balls… and then you’ve got yourself mozzarella!

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Homemade Mozzarella

*Refrigerate for a week in a small container containing a cup of cool whey (seasoned with a tsp of salt)

 My favorite way to enjoy mozzarella is in a caprese salad with juicy tomatoes and fragrant basil! It was amazing, and I’m not just saying that because I made the mozzarella!

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Homemade Mozzarella and Caprese Salad

Eating homemade mozzarella is pretty amazing… It was quick and made me feel strangely powerful. Those curds just come together like magic! One minute you have milk and the next solid curds! Incredible.

I mean if I could make any and all cheese I would – from brie to Rouquefort, I’m there. This is definitely the gateway drug of cheeses.

Homemade Mozzarella / Caprese Salad
 
Ingredients
  • To make mozzarella at home, you'll need the following:
  • gallon of milk (I used whole, unpasteurized milk)
  • ¼ tsp liquid vegetable rennet
  • 1½ tsp citric acid powder (either in powder or tablet form)
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 1¼ cup water
Instructions
  1. Dissolve the citric acid in ¼ cup of water in a separate bowl. Once dissolved, add this mixture to the gallon of milk in a large pot. Warm to 90°F, stirring gently.
  2. Once the milk has reached 90°F, remove the pot from the heat and gently stir in the rennet. Cover the pot and let sit undisturbed for five minutes. In this time, the milk will set, beginning to look and feel like tofu.
  3. Cut this tofu-like substance into uniform curds, cutting a grid like pattern all the way down the bottom of the pot.
  4. Reheat the curds to 105°F, stirring slowly and gently. The curds will separate from the whey and once they do, remove from the heat. Continue to stir gently for five minutes.
  5. Separate the curds into a microwave safe bowl with a slotted spoon. Microwave the curds for one minute, draining off the whey. With rubber gloves, fold the curds a few times.
  6. Continue to microwave the curds at 30 second intervals until they have reached an internal temperature of 135°F. This is the optimal temperature in order to stretch the mozzarella properly.
  7. Season the cheese and stretch and fold the curds. It should start to become firm and become glossy. Shape into one large ball or smaller balls.

  

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