Make Your Own Mozzarella
It’s tomato season and a great time to experiment with making your own mozzarella. Making your own cheese? I don’t think Adam and I thought we could do it until we attended a seminar on cheese making at home presented by Austin Homebrew and Slow Food Austin earlier this year. Our friend Carla of Austin Urban Gardens made mozzarella from a cheese kit purchased at Austin Homebrew recently and she told us that it was pretty doable.
Once we found Austin Homebrew (it’s moved from Burnet just north of 183 to Metric), finding the cheese kit was easy. It cost about $15 and includes the special ingredients needed for 20 3/4 lb. balls of cheese.
Three of the ingredients are below: citric acid, calcium chloride, and rennet. The vegetarian rennet tablets are kept in the freezer and they are the reason the cheese kits are refrigerated at the store. Basically, the citric acid curdles milk and turns it into cottage cheese. Calcium Chloride is used to aid coagulation and help form curd and the rennet causes the solution to gel.
A thermometer is key to making cheese and there are various points in the process where you’ll need to check temperature. We used this handy digital thermometer borrowed from friends Jen & Mike — I love the way it hangs over the side of the pot.
Looks like we made cottage cheese below but I didn’t stop to taste it. I’m sure it was delicious! We did end up making ricotta and have jars of whey filling the fridge if anyone has suggestions for how we should use it.
Lots of straining and liquid removal happens in the mozzarella cheese making process. Here, Adam presses the cheese curds in a strainer to pour off as much whey as possible.
Adam has likely poured the cheese salt (finely grained salt) over the curd and is beginning the process of folding the curds.
We couldn’t help kneading the curds like you would dough but Adam suggested more folding and less kneading to create the best results.
I couldn’t help but sneak a taste. The whey was delicious! We poured some into Lucy (the dog’s) bowl too.
The finished product below! This was actually our second batch of mozzarella. Both were delicious but this version was made with a salt water bath instead of cheese salt and Adam carefully folded it to create a more attractive and smooth finished product.
By the way, you can’t use just any old milk to make fresh cheese. It’s best to use unpasteurized or at the least lightly pasteurized whole milk. We used Way Back When whole milk (lighty pasteurized) — one gallon purchased at the Downtown Austin Farmer’s Market and another from Wheatsville Co-op. The only difference between the two was that the Wheatsville milk was actually a dollar cheaper. This local dairy is wonderful and the high quality milk really made a difference.
The finished product was delicious. Those gorgeous tomatoes from Johnson’s Backyard Garden and our friends Kenny & Heather’s actual backyard garden were treated with the respect they deserved by this cheese.
Do you want to see the entire cheese making process from start to finish? This video from Austin Homebrew clearly walks through the process.Tags: austin homebrew, cheese, mozzarella