Making Mozzarella Cheese

Mozzarella cheese halves

Making mozzarella cheese is a slightly different process than for other semi-firm cheeses. The good news is that, unlike most other cheeses, you don't have to wait overnight for bacteria to culture the milk, so you can actually enjoy your mozzarella cheese the same day you make it.

The bad news is that the process involves a step of heat-treating and stretching the curds that can be a little tedious.

Traditional mozzarella using a thermophilic culture and hot-water bath heat treatment is normally not recommended as one of the first cheeses to make, and I can attest to that recommendation.

My first attempt at learning how to make mozzarella this way was such a complete failure that it was eight years before I was willing to try it again!

The second time I used a different method (sometimes called "quick mozzarella" or "American mozzarella") that uses citric acid to precipitate the curds and a microwave for heat-treating the curds, and it worked very well.

I hope that these instructions will help you succeed at making mozzarella your very first time, even if you are a novice cheesemaker!

Ingredients (makes about 8 ounces of cheese):

  • 1/2 gallon goat milk
  • 5/8 tsp. powdered citric acid
  • 1/8 tsp. liquid rennet
  • two separate measurements of 1/8 cup water each

Note: I have found citric acid in the canning section of the local grocery/supermarket, as well as at a local pharmacy. The pharmacy price was much higher than the grocery store price. You can also find citric acid at our affiliate, Cultures for Health.

Make Mozzarella Cheese at Home

You can get all the supplies needed for making 30 batches of mozzarella cheese in the convenient 30-Minute Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese Making Kit from Cultures for Health.

Pour the milk into a stainless steel pan. Dissolve the citric acid in one of the 1/8 cups of water. Add the solution to the milk and stir well. Warm the milk to 88° F, then remove from heat.
Mixing citric acid with water

Adding citric acid to milk

Mix the rennet with the other 1/8 cup of water. Pour the rennet mixture into the milk while stirring. Continue to stir gently for about 30 seconds to be sure the rennet has been thoroughly mixed with the milk.
Mixing rennet with water

Adding rennet to milk

Let the milk set for 15 minutes to an hour undisturbed for the curds to coagulate.

Check the milk every 15 minutes for a clean break, which means that when your finger pushes into the curds, clear whey immediately fills the depression, and no curds stick to your finger.

When the curds are ready, slice them into 1-inch cubes with a long knife and let rest for about 10 minutes. This will allow whey to begin to seep out from the curds.
Cutting cheese curds

Cheese curds cut in to cubes

Now, slowly warm the curds to 108° F, stirring gently every few minutes. I do this on my smallest burner on the lowest setting.

Keep the curds at this temperature for about 35 minutes. Stir gently every few minutes to ensure even heating. Monitor the temperature, and turn the burner on or off as needed to maintain 108° F.

You will notice that the curds will shrink and become firmer during this time, as more whey is released. Drain the curds through a sieve or colander.

Cheesecloth can be used, but isn't really necessary, as the curds are firmer than those for soft cheeses. Let them drain for 15-30 minutes. (You can save the whey for making ricotta cheese if you'd like.)
Heating curds for mozzarella

Draining curds for mozzarella

The final step in making mozzarella cheese is to heat treat and stretch the curds into the traditional mozzarella consistency.

Mix in about 1/2 to 1 tsp. of non-iodized salt with the curds. Place the salted curds into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for about 45-60 seconds.

Using a large spoon or your hands, knead the curds much as you would bread dough by pushing, stretching and folding the curds. They should begin to start sticking together and take on a glossier finish.
Kneading curds for mozzarella

Kneading curds for mozzarella

If the curds cool before they begin to stick together, re-heat them for about 15 seconds, and continue kneading.

Finish by rolling the curds into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap or place in a covered bowl and refrigerate.

When the cheese has been thoroughly chilled, it should be glossy and have a rubbery texture. It's ready to eat or use in your favorite recipe.
Mozzarella cheese curds made into ball

Mozzarella cheese after cooling

Articles are updated frequently, so check back here for any new information on making mozzarella cheese!

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