Making Mozzarella in 30 Minutes!

I was making lasagna a week or so ago and realised that I had forgotten to buy mozzarella. I like to top my lasagnas with slices of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil leaves. So, with my sauce simmering away on the stove, I was begrudgingly about to go back to the supermarket. Then I remembered this 30-minute mozzarella recipe I had seen online.

Here are the ingredients:
  • 1 gallon Milk, not ultra-pasteurized
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Citric Acid powder, dissolved in 1/4 cup room-temperature water
  • 1/4 tsp. Liquid Rennet or 1/2 tablet Rennet, dissolved in 1/4 cup room-temperature water
  • 1 tsp. Cheese (Flake) Salt or Kosher Salt
I checked and I had all the ingredients. I have been thinking about making cheese for a while now and had purchased some supplies online. The rennet and citric acid powder are the two unusual ingredients; both are cheap and can be stored for long periods of time (citric acid in the freezer and rennet in the fridge). Most cheeses also require a starter culture, which can also be stored in the freezer. I got mine here.

Your main ingredient is milk, and lots of it, so you want to use the best milk you can lay your hands on. Luckily, I had a gallon of milk in the fridge, and not just any milk. I'd made a special trip to Glendale to go to a Raw Milk dispenser who only parks up at this location for four hours on a Saturday. It seemed all a bit under the radar, down a side street, and you can see why when raw milk dispensers have been closed down in the L.A in the past. People have even been sent to prison over it! However, there was a queue, and the milk was flying out of the truck. I have to say that the milk did not disappoint: it's really rich and tasty. I have read that using raw instead of ultra-pasteurised, homogonised milk gives your cheese more flavour. It stands to reason that if the milk is tastier, the cheese will be, too.

Right so, here's what you do. One gallon of milk goes in the pan. Gently heat to 55° Fahrenheit or 13° Celcius and add the citric acid. A dairy themometer comes in handy here-- again they are cheaply available. Stir well. The curds will start to separate from the whey, as pictured below.

Keep heating gently till you get to 88°F / 31°C. The curds will be curdling before your eyes. It's happening. Cheese is happening! Stir gently whilst the temperature gets up to about 105°F / 40.5°C. Turn off when the curds have started to pull away from the side of the pot and are quite thick.

Now you're supposed to let the rest for five minutes but I couldn't wait and went straight ahead to straining them.

Well, actually I had my dad strain them whilst I read out the further instructions and stirred my sauce.

This can be done with a holey spoon. After straining you end up with a gloopy, yet almost cheese-like substance.

Time for the marigolds. The next step gets pretty hot.

Oh yeaaah. Once you have donned the gloves, put the curds in the microwave for 60 seconds. Press them after this, and tip out the runny whey. Then I added a generous few pinches of truffle salt. Pure extravagance. But you can use normal salt too. Then fold over the curds and pop back in the microwave for another 30-40 seconds.

 Fold over and press again, tipping off the whey once more.

Do this once more. Microwave for 30-40 seconds, fold, tip off. Then comes the fun bit; stretching your mozzarella.

You can see that I can barely believe what I am doing here. 

Magic. This stuff stretches like crazy.

Boom. Done. There it is. Mozzarella. 30 minutes. Here's the lasagna awaiting another layer of pasta and its toppings:

Lauren's parents' dogs were pretty excited about it too.

This is Mimi. Sniff sniff.
And this is Zooey. Sniff sniff, lick lick.
Slicing it up. Still very warm. Obviously had to taste some and found it to be very palatable indeed, very fresh.

On to the lasagna!

Close up:

And into the oven for 45 minutes.

End result: The mozzarella was a little lost in the lasagna, mixing with all the other flavours, but it was delicious so I won't complain. I'll definitely be repeating it, and trying different cheeses out in the near future.