Please note: this recipe is not the quick, "30-minute" version of mozzarella cheese, but rather the more traditional method using cultured milk. While it takes a little longer, the flavor and texture are well worth the extra effort.
- 2 gallons cow or goat milk (raw or pasteurized, but NOT ultra-pasteurized)
- Thermophilic culture (choose one):
- Rennet (choose one):
- 16 ounces kosher salt (optional, for brine)
- In large pot, heat milk over medium low heat to 90°F, stirring frequently.
- When milk is at 90°F, add culture, stir well, cover, and allow to ferment for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, check temperature again. It should still be at 87° to 90°F. Stir well to homogenize the milk, and slowly fold in the diluted rennet. Using an up-and-down motion with your spoon will ensure that the rennet works its way through all the milk, so you can get the highest possible yield.
- Allow the cheese to set for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the whey begins to separate from the curd. You should see a layer of mostly clear whey floating on top of the curd, and the curd should be pulling away from the sides of the pot.
- Using a long knife, cut the curds into 1/2-inch cubes and allow to set for 20 minutes. Do not stir.
- Over the next 30 minutes, slowly heat the curds to 100°F, stirring frequently. As you stir, the curds will shrink. Once the curds are at 100°F, turn off the heat and allow to set for 5 minutes.
- Drain the whey from the curds, preserving the whey for other recipes (if desired).
- Fill your sink with 110° to 120°F water, and set the pot containing the curds into the sink. Allow to set at this temperature for 2 to 3 hours. Every 30 minutes, use your hands to press the whey from the curds and flip the curds over. At the end of 2 to 3 hours, you should have a firm cake of curds.
- Cut the curds into four equal pieces; these will be your balls of mozzarella. Set three of the pieces aside, and put on your gloves.
- Heat water to between 170° and 190°F. Pour the water over the first piece of mozzarella, working it with your hands until it is smooth, shiny, and stretchy. Work quickly! The water is hot and you can burn your hands even through gloves. When the cheese is nice and stretchy, form into a ball and place in a bowl of cold water to firm up. Continue with the other three pieces.
Please note: It is impossible to make a truly “raw” mozzarella. All mozzarella must be heated to 170°F in order for the cheese to stretch, and pasteurization occurs at 160°F. If you are looking for a similar mild flavor in a raw cheese, try a young Monterey Jack, aged no longer than 30 days.
You may brine this mozzarella using 16 ounces of kosher salt, sea salt, or cheese salt along with 1 gallon of water. Leave the balls in the brine for 2 hours, then remove and pat dry before refrigerating. This cheese also freezes well; just shred it first.