If you’re like most people, you probably never thought about making your own mozzarella cheese. But it’s not that hard, it’s relatively inexpensive, and you can do it in less than an hour. And with a little luck, the result will be the best pizza cheese you’ve ever tasted. In fact, it may turn out to be your favorite pizza topping ever.
You won’t have everything you need on hand. But you should be able to get all the supplies at your local organic grocery or health food store. Here’s what you’ll need to make your own mozzarella pizza cheese:
* One gallon of whole milk, the freshest available
* A 6 – 8 quart stainless steel stock pot (aluminum or cast iron won’t work)
* 2 teaspoons of citric acid
* ¼ teaspoon of lipase powder that’s been dissolved in 2 tablespoons of distilled water
* ½ teaspoon of calcium chloride that’s been dissolved in 2 tablespoons of distilled water
* ½ rennet tablet that’s been dissolved in ¼ cup of distilled water
* ½ teaspoon of flaked salt
You’ll also need a candy thermometer.
To start, set out five custard cups, or similar containers, and put the citric acid, lipase powder, calcium chloride, rennet, and flaked salt mixtures in them. Pour the milk into the stock pot and heat it over medium heat. Gradually stir the citric acid, lipase powder, and calcium chloride into the milk. Continue stirring the milk. It’s important not to let it heat too fast. When the temperature reaches 88 Fahrenheit, stir in the rennet. By this point, you should start to see some curds forming. Continue stirring until the mixture reaches 105 degrees.
Remove the stock pot from the heat, cover it, and let it rest for 20 minutes. During that time, the curds will separate from the whey.
Drain the curds with a slotted spoon or a strainer. Drain off as much of the whey as you can. You may need to press the curds with the slotted spoon. Then transfer them to a microwave-safe dish.
Microwave the curds on high for one minute. Press them again to remove as much moisture as you can. By now, the curds should start to stick together. If not, microwave them for another 20 or 30 seconds. Add the flaked salt and work it into the curds well. Then microwave the cheese again for one minute.
The cheese will probably be too hot to knead with your hands, so use a spoon to work the mixture until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The next step is the most fun — stretching the mozzarella. Pull it like taffy until it’s completely cooled. This is how mozzarella cheese get the stringy, chewy consistency that makes it everyone’s favorite pizza cheese.
Wrap the ball of cheese in plastic wrap or place it in an air-tight container and then refrigerate it until you’re ready to make your pizza. Like fresh mozzarella, it may be too soft to grate. You can use thin slices for your pizza or put it in the freezer for a bit. You’ll be able to grate it when it’s partially frozen.
Use the homemade mozzarella with other delicious pizza toppings to make pizza that’s truly special. Once you start making your own cheese, you may never go back to store bought.
Read more tasty pizza recipes here.
Images Flickr: RBerteig