2-Hour “30 Minute” Mozzarella

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I used a recipe very similar to Ricki’s 30 Minute Mozzarella, written by the same person, but in a printed book without photos.

This cheese came out surprisingly well given my lack of precision in making it. It produced about a pound of mozzarella, which was just enough for four adults who really enjoy caprese salad. I was happy to try a recipe that only made one pound of cheese — most recipes make two — as the resulting cheese is only good for a couple of days, and I didn’t want any to go to waste. Plus, the smaller batch meant only one gallon of milk and a smaller pot.

Compared to aged cheeses, this was utterly simple. Not quite as simple as a quick cheese of milk and lemon juice, but pretty close.

The reason it took an hour and a half longer than advertised was mostly due to the fact that I heated the milk too much on the first step, then had to cool it down again before I could add the citric acid. Apparently milk heats up really quickly on the stove. Further delays occurred because I then switched to heating it in a water bath — having gone too far once, I was concerned about using the stove for the rest of the process — but the water bath method takes longer to effect temperature change.

First step, gathering the ingredients (including rescuing the citric acid from the hidden depths of the pantry):

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Heat the milk to 55*, or if you’re me, accidentally heat it to 75* on the stove and then cool it back down to 55* in the water bath.

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Add dilute citric acid while stirring so the milk doesn’t immediately curdle.

Add hot water to the water bath until the milk reaches 90*, then take off heat and add rennet, stir for 30 seconds, and let sit for 5 minutes. When I checked it at that point, I didn’t see much curd formation, so I let it sit for another 3 minutes or so.

Cut the curd and put back into the water bath to heat to 105* while stirring. After this stirring, my curds were significantly more broken up than the pictures in the recipe. I’m not sure why; it could have been temperature differences, milk differences, the slower heating rate, all sorts of things. I’m actually kind of glad I wasn’t looking at the pictures from the recipe, because I would have been worried, and it turned out fine.

Scoop out the curds with a wire basket and put them into a microwave-save bowl.

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Attempt to press more whey out of the curds in the bowl. I discovered a convenient synergy between the bowl and the wire basket such that I could press the curds with the basket while I poured out the whey.

Microwave the curds for a minute, then fold/knead them with a spoon to distribute the heat. Add salt to taste if you want. At this point, my curds were melding together and suddenly started looking like mozzarella. Microwave and knead a few more 30-second times as necessary. When it stretches like taffy, it’s done. Magic!

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Knead to evenly distribute the heat and watch it become more uniformly shiny. I suspect I didn’t quite do this part right, as my cheese log had some issues staying together. However, it was dinner time, and the cheese was cheese, so I sliced it into 1/4″ slices and plated it. We assembled our delicious morsels of fresh mozzarella, CSA tomatoes, and basil from our garden — with a dab of olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt — and dug in.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Meanwhile, I made cheese. | Speak & Spell
  2. Trackback: Home Made Cheese | eJo

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