Yes, you read that title correctly. You can make mozzarella cheese in ONE HOUR. This is not a drill!
A few months back, while in New York City for our anniversary, we stopped in at Eataly – an iconic foodie destination stocked with some of the highest quality ingredients and utensils I have ever seen. After we filled up on food, I grabbed a few souvenirs, including this “Eataly Approved” mozzarella cheese kit.
And while I used a kit to make my mozzarella, now that I have the know-how, I’ll definitely be making my own mozzarella from now on – because it’s actually SUPER easy!
You only need a few basic ingredients to make mozzarella: whole milk, citric acid, and rennet – a special cheese enzyme. It’s also handy to have a thermometer; one was provided in the kit I got! You’ll also need gloves to handle the hot mozzarella. I tried doing it without gloves. You’ll want gloves. Just a tip.
It all starts with the citric acid and whole milk. Once the citric acid has been added to the warm milk, something magical starts to happen. I’m sure it’s all very scientific, because after just a few minutes, the milk looks like this:
Citric acid is also what makes sour candies, sour. So in laymen’s terms, the citric acid has curdled the milk. And essentially made curds, the very start of the cheese culture!
After raising the temperature to 100 F, add the rennet and cover the pot when it reaches 105 F. See, this is why the thermometer comes in handy – always know exactly what temp is the right temp!
In about ten minutes, you’ll start to see a substantial amount of coagulation. A few minutes longer and the curds will start to form a mass and pull away from the sides of the pot. The liquid, or whey, will appear yellow-ish in color.
At this point you effectively have curds and whey. When the curds are ready, they should spring back slowly after being pressed on.
In order to get to a nice smooth ball of mozzarella, you’ll need to get rid of as much moisture from the curds as possible. I first started with a colander and pressed the curds against the inside to drain as much of the liquid as I could.
Once the curds have stopped freely dripping, it’s time to adorn the gloves and microwave the curds in thirty second intervals. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE CURDS! Seriously, this is important. Otherwise your mozzarella may not firm up like the real deal.
Use the thermometer to get the curds to 130 F. This is the optimal temperature to not be to hot to handle and be able to press the remaining moisture out of the cheese by hand. Just press and drain, microwave for another thirty seconds, and repeat.
When 99% of the moisture is gone and there is minimal liquid in the bowl with the cheese, it’s time to add the seasoning!
For this batch of cheese, I used the “cheese salt” that came in the kit. Next time I make this, I’m planning on adding in fresh herbs – maybe even dried fruit! I’m excited for all the possibilities.
I found it was easiest to fold the cheese “into itself” to get a good distribution of the salt. You’ll notice, if you have the cheese at the correct temperature of 130 F that it looks and feels a lot like melted…well, cheese. And that’s because it is!
Real mozzarella is stretched and formed into balls. I made two half pound balls of mozzarella and was able to use them in a variety of ways.
The fresh, firm mozzarella can be stored in the chilled whey until ready to use.
I used my homemade mozzarella a few different ways – once with a simple bruschetta I made from ingredients I found in my pantry (recipe coming soon!)
And I used the second ball to stuff chicken meatballs for a twist on chicken parmesan (recipe coming soon!)!
One Hour Mozzarella Cheese
- Dissolve the citric acid in one cup of water. Pour the milk into a large pot over medium heat. Bring the milk to 85 F, then pour in the citric acid mixture. Whisk until the milk starts to curdle.
- Dissolve the quarter tablet of rennet in 1/4 cup of water. Freeze the remaining rennet tablet for later use. Bring the milk to 100 F and pour in the rennet mixture. Gently stir until it starts to coagulate then when the milk temperature reaches 105 F, cover the pot and turn off the heat.
- Let the milk mixture rest for about ten minutes. At this point, there should be a distinguishable curd mass that has pulled away from the side of the pot and is floating on top. The whey will be yellow-ish in color. If not yet at this point, let set for another five minutes. The curds should slowly spring back after being pressed upon with the back of a spoon.
- Carefully transfer the curds to a colander. Use a wooden spoon or your hands to press the liquid out of the curds. Be sure to handle the curds as gently as possible. Move the drained curds to a microwave safe bowl.
- Microwave for one minute. Put on the gloves then use your knuckles to press as much of the liquid out of the curds as possible. Drain and continue to press as much of the liquid out.
- Microwave for another thirty seconds – the cheese should be about 130 F. Continue to press and drain out as much of the liquid as you can (you may have to do this several times). When there is about a half teaspoon (or less) of liquid in the bottom of the bowl, add the salt. Fold the melted cheese into itself to distribute the salt.
- Microwave for another thirty seconds so that the cheese is 130 F. Stretch the cheese a few times and roll into a ball. Don't let the cheese get too cool during this process. If you need to, bring the cheese back up to 130 F and continue to stretch until the cheese reaches the desired consistency and shape.
- Wrap in plastic to maintain the shape. Serve right away, warm and fresh; or chill and use in other recipes or enjoy as a snack!