A while back we had a girls’ get-together where we tried our hands at making homemade mozzarella cheese. We used a Mozzarella Cheesemaking kit from StoneWall Kitchen. We had so much fun doing it and I thought I’d share a few things we learned along the way.
For beginners (like us) it is easiest to buy a kit that comes with a thermometer, renet tablets and citric acid but if you want to try it all on your own I suggest this recipe from The Kitchn.
Here are a few things we learned:
- To make cheese you need milk that is NOT ultra high temperature (UHT) pasteurized. Milk that has been UHT pasteurized has had it’s proteins denatured so it will not create curds when you mix in the renet and citric acid. We didn’t know anything about UHT pasteurization when we started this so we were concerned we would get the wrong thing. Turns out most organic milks are UHT pasteurized, who knew? So, when you go to buy your milk avoid organic unless you are sure it isn’t UHT and check the label to see if it is “Ultra” Pasteurized before you buy it.
- Don’t skip the gloves. Those curds get hot! Make sure everyone who is going to be making the cheese has a pair of gloves so they can handle it.
- Don’t overwork the curds! Our mozzarella didn’t turn out quite as good as we had hoped because it was very stiff. We squeezed, kneaded and stretched a little too zealously :). When your cheese temperature is 135 F, it begins to feel firm, and it becomes shiny you are there, don’t keep working it!
- Have some herbs on hand to add to your cheese. We used a garlic-basil infused oil to soak the small mozzarella balls in. We loved the flavor it gave the cheese. You can also use fresh basil, olive oil, red pepper flakes, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.
- It doesn’t really matter if your cheese is any good if you spent the afternoon drinking wine and gabbing with your girlfriends while you made it! 😉
Cheese-making was fun, and really interesting. I enjoy learning about the science behind how food is made. I wouldn’t say it was a total success for us. The cheese was rather bland, maybe we needed more salt?, and we definitely over-worked it so it was a little too firm and didn’t melt well, BUT I’m pretty sure if we tried it again we’d do better.
If nothing else it was a fun day with good friends!