Mozzarella Cheese

Finished Mozzarella
Elaine Lemm
  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: 8 servings

Homemade mozzarella has a fabulous fresh flavor that goes especially well with fresh ripe tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, and basil. The idea of making it yourself may feel intimidating, but these detailed instructions will surprise you with how easy it can be. Even better—it only takes 30 minutes.

It's not complicated—as long as you weigh and prepare all the ingredients before you start, the whole process should be very smooth. All you will need is milk, rennet tablets, and citric acid, typically found in health food stores and specialty markets.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 rennet tablet
  • 1/4 cup water (cool and chlorine-free; most bottled waters are chlorine-free)
  • 1 gallon ​​milk (2 percent, 1 percent, or skim)
  • 2 teaspoons citric acid

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Ensure that your work area and tools have been thoroughly cleaned.

    Making Mozzarella Ingredients
  2. Crush the rennet into a fine powder with a pestle and mortar if you have one; if not use the back of a tablespoon. Add to the water and stir to dissolve.

    Rennet
    Elaine Lemm
  3. Pour milk into a non-reactive pot (no aluminum or cast iron). Place over medium heat. Sprinkle the citric acid over the milk and stir a few times. Heat milk to 88 F. The milk will begin to curdle.

    Mozzarella at 88F
    Elaine Lemm
  4. At 88 F, add the rennet solution and continue stirring slowly every few minutes until the milk reaches 105 F. Turn off the heat. Large curds will appear and begin to separate from the whey (the clear, greenish liquid).

    Mozzarella at 105F
    Elaine Lemm
  5. With a slotted spoon or mesh strainer, scoop the curd into a large glass bowl. (If it's still too loose, let it set for a few more minutes). Press the curds gently a spoon or your squeeze with your hands.

    Pressing whey form curds
    Elaine Lemm
  6. Once you have squeezed out the liquid whey, you will be left with the soft white curds.

    Curds and whey
    Elaine Lemm
  7. Place the glass bowl with the curds into a microwave and cook for 1 minute on high. Remove from the microwave and press with a spoon (do not use your hands as the cheese will be too hot) to squeeze out any more whey. Keep pressing until the cheese starts to cool. After just one round in the microwave, the cheese will already start to smoothen out. Repeat twice more for 35 seconds.

    Smoothing out the curds
    Elaine Lemm
  8. After three times in the microwave, there will be little whey left and the cheese will start to form a ball. When it is cool enough to touch, knead it like bread dough until smooth. Once the cheese starts to harden, pop it back in the microwave for 10 seconds to soften it again.

    Making Mozzarella Ball
    Elaine Lemm
  9. Keep kneading, gently heating in the microwave a few more times until the cheese starts to get shiny and smooth. You can sprinkle 1 to 2 teaspoons salt into the cheese while kneading.

    Smooth mozzarella
    Elaine Lemm
  10. Now is the time to start stretching, just as you would with taffy. Pull the cheese into a rope, fold over and repeat. The cheese will become stretchy, smooth, and shiny. If you find it difficult to stretch and it tears instead, give it 10 seconds in the microwave.

    mozzarella being stretched on a marble surface
    Elaine Lemm
  11. Once the cheese is soft and pliable, gently roll it into a golf sized ball or a log and serve.

    Finished Mozzarella
    Elaine Lemm

Tip

  • Not sure if your rennet is working? There is a simple way to test it. Cut a rennet tablet into quarter, crush with the back of spoon, and dissolve in 1 cup of water. Warm 1 cup of milk to 88 F, add 2 tablespoons of the dissolved rennet, and stir well. After two minutes, the milk should start to set; after 10, it will have firmed up and you can cut it with a knife.

Recipe Variation

  • Mozzarella is a mild cheese and adding a little salt can bring flavor, but if you prefer not to or are cutting down, use dried herbs or even a pinch of chili flakes for a little added kick.