FRESH MOZZARELLA FROM A GALLON OF MILK

©David B. Fankhauser, Ph.D.,
Professor of Biology and Chemistry
University of Cincinnati Clermont College,
Batavia OH 45103
pour 85 C water over the curds
to meld them together
This page has been accessed Counter times since 27 October 2003. 

First on the web on 27 October 2003
 the hot curds blend together
and are shaped into balls

If you are new to cheese making, please read Beginning Cheese Making carefully. Mozzarella is a challenging cheese and should not be attempted as your first cheese. This is a recipe to make a fresh mozzarella which I have developed from a recipe for pasta filata (a type of cheese of which mozzarella is one example) found on an Kenyan Cheesemaking site .  The modified recipe is more straightforward, easier, and more dependable than the traditional Italian Fresh Mozzarella I posted on the web in the Summer of 2000.  It requires preparation of the curd the night before, allowing the curd to mature in a warm place overnight, and then warmed and molded the next morning.

There are six stages to making this mozzarella, many of which follow the general outline of most cheese preparation: 


I.  INOCULATION bacterial starter is added to slightly acidify the milk so rennet works 
II.  COAGULATION rennet is added which causes acidified milk protein to coagulate 
III.  CUTTING THE CURD curd is cut to allow the whey (liquid remnant of milk) to be expressed
IV.  ACIDIFICATION curds are kept warm for 8 hours, allowing bacteria to further acidify 
V.  MELTING acidified curds are stirred with hot water causing them to melt together
VI.   MOLDING AND BRINING the soft curd mass is kneaded into balls, cooled and placed in brine 

 
INGREDIENTS AND EQUIPMENT

 Ingredients Equipment
Day 1: 1 gallon fresh milk 
1/4th cup cultured buttermilk
½ tablet rennet
1 ½ gallon pot with thick heavy bottom and well fitting cover 
     sterilized by boiling 1/2 inch water covered, 5 minutes
thermometer, 0-110 C (32-230 F)
whisk
long bladed knife
Day 2: ½ gallon 85 C water 
½ gallon ice water
1/4 cup salt 
1 gallon bowl
½ gallon jar with lid 
slotted spoon

I.  INOCULATION


a.   In the early evening, warm one gallon fresh milk to 35 C (95 F) slowly enough so it does not burn on the bottom.  (Note that the pictures were taken when I made the cheese on a slightly different schedule than the one I prefer and describe here.) 

b.   Blend in 1/4th cup cultured buttermilk thoroughly with a whisk.  Be sure to use fresh, active cultured buttermilk.  Either purchased, or home cultured will work if it is active (bacteria are live and well).

c.   Let sit 15 minutes to allow the bacteria to "wake up."

II.  COAGULATION


a.   Meanwhile, dissolve ½ tablet rennet in 1/4th cup cool water.  It will be slightly cloudy, but no chunks on the bottom.
b.   Stir dissolved rennet into inoculated milk, whisk to mix thoroughly, cover, place in a warm, protected spot.
c.   Let sit undisturbed in a warm place for approximately 2-3  hours until it displays a clean break. (See basic cheese page for demonstration of a clean break .  NOTE:  If you disturb the milk during this time, you will have problems getting a clean break .)

III.  CUTTING THE CURD 


a.   After two hours, test for a clean break.  Do not proceed to the next step until you DO achieve a clean break.  DO NOT DISTURB... 

(see basic cheese page step 7 for details.  If you have problems achieving a clean break, here is a page to diagnose the problem .)

b.   Once a clean break is achieved, cut the curd into ½ inch cubes. 

(see basic cheese page steps 9 through 11 for technique).

c.   Stir up cut curds gently with a clean hand, cutting pieces larger than 1/2 inch cubes into smaller pieces.  Let sit 15 minutes with occasional stirring.
d.   Pour off whey which has come to the surface (about a quart, save for ricotta if you like).
e.   Warm curds to 36 C (97 F) with gently constant hand stirring.  It should never feel hot at the bottom.

IV.  ACIDIFICATION 


a.  Replace the cover and let  the 36 C (97 F) curds (and remaining whey) sit in warm place overnight (at least 8 hours). 
Here I have place it on top of a slightly warm wood stove, buffering the temperature with a larger pot of water.  I have also had success by placing the curds in front of the refrigerator fan which blows warm air.  Be sure the pot is securely covered.

V.  MELTING 


a.   The next morning, test for proper ‘spin’ of the acidified curd by dropping a few pieces of curd into 85 C (185 F) water, stirring with a fork, and testing to see if it ‘spins:’ pulls like taffy.  If it breaks apart when you pull it, let the curds sit additional hours until it does ‘spin.’
b.   Once it spins, warm ½ gallon fresh water to 85 C (185 F).
c.   Meanwhile, pour off all the remaining whey from the curds and whey. (Save a pint of the whey for acidified brine (below, step VI.d.) and the rest for ricotta ).
d.   Break the curd mass into small pieces with your hands.  (Here I have put it in a colander to ease draining the curd.  If you carefully perform the previous step to drain all easily drained whey, a colander is unnecessary.)
e. With the broken up curds in the 1½ gallon pot, pour the ½ gallon 85 C (185 F) water over the curd pieces, stir with a slotted spoon until it forms a gummy mass.  The temperature will drop to about 55-60 C (130-140 F).

VI.   MOLDING AND BRINING 


a.  Stir the curd in the hot water so that it comes together to form a gummy mass, pressing and folding with the spoon.
b. Pinch off lemon sized pieces of the hot dough-like cheese, fold over and over on itself to form a smooth ball.  Briefly replace in the 85 C (185 F) water to soften, and mold to even out the smoothness of the ball.  (I could have worked the curd a little longer to meld it together more smoothly in the picture at the left.) 

c.  Drop smoothed ball into iced cold water to firm up the ball.  Repeat the shaping of balls for the rest of the curd.  You should get about four  4-5 ounce balls from a gallon of milk.
 
 
 

Not much to see here...  the formed balls are chillin' in iced cold water.

d.  Prepare brine: in a ½ gallon jar, dissolve 1/4 cup salt in 1 pint fresh cool water plus 1 pint of whey (from step V.c.)

e.  Drop the cooled mozzarella balls in the brine, cover and refrigerate. 
f.  After 12-24 hours, remove from brine, place balls in zip lock bags until used. (Do not leave too long in the brine, or the surface will soften.)
g.  Use within several days or a week of preparation.  Fresher is better.

Here are additional pictures taken of the process , but not used in construction this page.