Excellent fresh mozzarella is milky, tender, and mild with a faint layer of cream beneath the skin that gushes a little when you slice it. In other words, this isn't that stiff, tough ball of vacuum-sealed supermarket mozzarella, and it's definitely not the low-moisture cooking mozzarella that you throw on pizzas or lasagnas; it's mozzarella for savoring on its own, perhaps with a sprinkle of sea salt, or torn up for a simple Caprese salad. This mozzarella? You eat it when it's still warm and it never goes into the fridge. Here's how to make it at home.
Why It Works
- Using non-homogenized milk pasteurized at under 170°F guarantees viable curd.
- Setting the mozzarella in room-temperature whey yields better flavor and texture than an ice bath.
- Yield:Makes approximately 3 medium balls mozzarella
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:1 hour
- 1 gallon non-homogenized, low-temperature pasteurized whole milk (see note above)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid
- 1/4 teaspoon rennet or 1/4 tablet rennet, diluted in 2 tablespoons filtered or distilled water
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
Pour milk into large stainless-steel pot and whisk to disperse butterfat. Sprinkle citric acid into milk and stir well to fully dissolve.
Stirring every few minutes, bring the milk to 88°F over medium-low heat, about 5 minutes. Add rennet and stir to combine, about 30 seconds. Milk will begin to curdle into small clumps and separate from liquid whey. Reduce heat to low and continue heating until whey reads 105°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5-10 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer curds to a strainer set over a bowl, pressing gently to drain. Curds should form a single mass. Allow to drain until whey is no longer dripping, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer drained curds to a cutting board. Slice into 1-inch cubes and divide into 3 even portions.
Meanwhile, season whey with 1 tablespoon kosher salt (or more to taste), stirring well to dissolve. Transfer one-third of the whey to a heatproof bowl and set aside.
If using the stovetop method: bring remaining two-thirds of whey to 180°F over high heat. Working with 1 portion of curds at a time, place in a heatproof bowl and add enough hot whey to cover. Wait 15-20 seconds, until curd is soft, sticky, and clumping together.
If using a microwave: Working with 1 portion of curds at a time, place in a microwave-safe dish and heat on high in 15-second intervals until curd is soft and sticky.
For both methods: Put on clean rubber gloves. Pick up the ball of curds and slowly draw hands apart, allowing gravity to stretch the curds; avoid forcing, tearing, or kneading the curds. Continue folding and stretching curds, reheating in microwave or whey as necessary, until curds are shiny and smooth, approximately 2-6 stretches.
Fold curd into a mass that's roughly the size of your palm and make a C-shape with the forefinger and thumb of one hand. Push the curd through those fingers, exerting pressure to shape it into a sphere. Press hard enough to prevent large bubbles from forming under the skin. Alternatively, make a closed loop with thumb and forefinger and make several small, egg-shaped bocconcini.
Gently lower ball into room-temperature whey and let rest 20-30 minutes before eating. Meanwhile, repeat with remaining portions of curd. Cheese should be eaten immediately or within a few hours; to store, wrap tightly in plastic and follow reheating guidelines.