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How to Make Great Fresh Mozzarella Cheese

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Picture of How to Make Great Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
This has been Revised a little bit because some people have had a little trouble with the original. Even I had a few bad batches. The main differences are the times in the microwave. Follow the instructions carefully and you should end up with an almost 100% foolproof batch of Mozzarella Cheese

If you like fresh home made Mozzarella Cheese then try out this Instructable. If you have never had fresh Mozzarella Cheese, try it out any way. There is a world of difference between the packages stuff you buy in the store and the cheese you make yourself. It will only take a couple hours out of your life but it will be well worth it.

There are a lot of recipes on the internet but a lot of them seem to skip an important step or 2 or don't really explain it well enough, so I have made many batches through trial and error combining things that I have learned and experimented with (so you don't have to) and come up with this recipe that seems to work real good.

There are also a lot of recipes out there saying make Mozzarella Cheese in 30 minutes. Realistically, it ain't gonna happen if you want to do it right. Plan on it taking about an hour and a half to 2 hours. As you make more batches you can cut it down to maybe an hour or so.

I use whole milk for mine but you should be able to use skimmed, 1%, or 2% milk also. If you have access to farm fresh milk your even better off and I'm jealous. You can also use goat, buffalo or camel milk.
 
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Step 1: Equipment you will need:

Picture of Equipment you will need:
Equipment:
1. At least an 8 quart pot either enameled or stainless steel. (Do not use aluminum, cast iron or other reactive pots)
2. Thermometer. (A candy thermometer will probably work but a good digital thermometer is much better for accuracy.)
3. A couple measuring cups or something to dissolve the Citric Acid and Rennet in.
4. A big strainer to strain the Curds from the Whey.
5. A long sharp knife to cut the Curds up with.
6. A slotted spoon to stir the Curds and dip them out with.
7. Large bowl for the drained off Whey. (Glass is best)
8. Small bowl to put the Curds in. (Glass is best)
9. Microwave

Optional:
10. Nylon netting for draining Curds. (I use this with the strainer. You can get this stuff at most fabric stores. It is just nylon netting. Get the plain white and probably not the colored stuff)
11. Plain white cloth if you want to make Ricotta Cheese with the Whey that is left over.
12. Small strainer to dip out the curds.

Ingredients:
1. 1 gallon Milk. Let the milk set out either in the gallon container or in the pot until it gets to about 50 degrees. (I have only used whole milk, although you can also use 2% or skimmed milk. Do not use ultra-homogenized milk though. If you are lucky enough to get milk fresh from the farm, that's even better)
2. 1 Rennet tablet crushed. (The Rennet tablet is used to coagulate the milk. You can also use liquid Rennet if you can get it. You can get The Rennet tablets at a lot of specialty or smaller stores and it is usually in the pudding aisle or in the Ice Cream section with the chocolate, nuts and stuff. About $2.00)
3. 2 teaspoons Citric Acid divided. 1 teaspoon is dissolved in water and the other one is sprinkled directly into the milk. (The citric acid is what gives the cheese it's stretch. Get it at some health food stores for around $4.00 for 4 ounces or at a pharmacy which can cost $12.00 to $14.00)
4. 1/2 cup water divided in 2. (Do not use chlorinated water. Bottled water is fine.)
5. 1 - 2 teaspoons salt.

Step 2: OK First things First

Picture of OK First things First
1. Pour 1 teaspoon Citric Acid into 1/4 cup unchlorinated water and stir. Crush the Rennet tablet and pour it into the other cup of unchlorinated water.
The Citric Acid should be dissolved by the time you have to use it. Most of the Rennet will be dissolved but there will still be some residue left.
2. If you haven't done so already, pour milk into your pot.
Make sure the milk is around 50 degrees when you pour in the Citric Acid

Step 3: Pour in the Citric Acid.

Picture of Pour in the Citric Acid.
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1. Pour the dissolved Citric Acid in the milk and stir for 1 minute.
2. Sprinkle the other teaspoon of Citric Acid in the milk and sir for another minute. You will probably see the milk start to curdle very shortly.

Step 4: Heat milk to 88-90 degrees F. Stirring occasionally.

Picture of Heat milk to 88-90 degrees F. Stirring occasionally.
This is not an error. You are not trying to pasteurize the milk. If you get it too hot or too cold, the Rennet will not make curds. Use a low heat so it doesn't go past the 88-90 degrees. It should take about 10-15 minutes.

Step 5: At 88-90 degrees turn off the heat and stir in the Rennet solution for 15-20 seconds.

Picture of At 88-90 degrees turn off the heat and stir in the Rennet solution for 15-20 seconds.
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Cover the pot with the lid and LEAVE IT SET UNDISTURBED FOR AT LEAST 15-20 MINUTES until you can get a clean break. I usually let mine set for 15-30 minutes. Time is not critical here as long as you get the clean break.

Step 6: Wait for a clean break.

Picture of Wait for a clean break.
This is what a clean break looks like. When you poke your finger into it and move for an inch or so and lift it out, the Curd and Whey should separate shortly. If it is still liquidy (Is that a real word?) and sticks to your finger let it set a while longer.

Step 7: Cut the Curd.

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Cut the Curds into 1/2 inch cubes from top to bottom as shown. Then do the same thing at a 45 degree angle.

Step 8: Let the Curds set undisturbed for 5-10 minutes.

Picture of Let the Curds set undisturbed for 5-10 minutes.
Just let them sit there.

Step 9: Apply low heat and heat to 108 degrees.

Picture of Apply low heat and heat to 108 degrees.
Apply low heat and stir the curds occasionally to keep them separated until they reach 108 degrees. This will take about 15 minutes. The Curds will shrink and start to sink as the Whey is expelled from them.

Step 10: Turn off the heat.

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Turn off the heat and continue stirring every few minutes for an additional 20 minutes. The Curds will keep shrinking.

Step 11: Drain the Curds.

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Drain the Curds into a strainer or colander and let set for about 15 minutes. Either use a small strainer to dip them out or just pour into the big bowl through the large strainer. Let the Curds drain until no more Whey comes out of them. This might take 10 - 15 minutes. You can either dump the Whey or save it to make Ricotta.

Step 12: Pour the Curds into the smaller bowl.

Picture of Pour the Curds into the smaller bowl.
Pour the Curds into the smaller bowl and break them up with your hand a little bit.

Step 13: Heat the Curd.

Picture of Heat the Curd.
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OK here comes the tricky part.

Place the Curds in the microwave on high for 30 - 45 seconds. If you have it on too long you will cook the Curd and it will turn to mush. Better a couple shorter cycles than one that's too long. The Curds will start to separate from the Whey. I have an 1100 watt microwave. If yours is a different wattage you might have to adjust the time.

Step 14: Squeeze the Curds

Picture of Squeeze the Curds
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Using the slotted spoon or your hand GENTLY squeeze the Whey from the Curd. Pour off the Whey.

Step 15: Microwave again.

Picture of Microwave again.
Microwave again for 15 - 20 seconds and pour more Whey off. As you are gently squeezing the Whey out work it into a ball also.

Step 16: Stretching. OK Here comes the fun part.

Picture of Stretching. OK Here comes the fun part.
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Microwave again.
Put back in the microwave for another 20 seconds. Add Salt. At this point if it's warm enough it should start to become pliable and stretchy. YEAH!!!!. Grab 1/3 to 1/2 and lift. It should start to stretch under it's own weight. If not put it in the microwave for a few more seconds. As you work through the stretching process also knead it like bread a couple times. If necessary microwave occasionally until your cheese looks like the last picture.

Step 17: Work into a ball.

Picture of Work into a ball.
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At this point knead it like bread dough into a ball. If it breaks apart on you just put it in the Microwave again for a bit. As soon as it is nice and smooth and shiny it's done.

Step 18: CHEESE!!!!!!!!

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You now have some Great Home Made Mozzarella Cheese.

Step 19: Final notes.

Before I perfected this recipe I was getting 12-14 ounces of cheese. Lately I get about 16-18 ounces. It probably depends on how much you work it. Wrap in plastic or put in a Zip lock bag and refrigerate if you can keep from eating the whole thing right then and there. That's when it is at it's best. It should keep in the refrigerator for at least 6-10 days. I keep my fridge set just this side of freezing so things keep a lot longer.

With the left over Whey you can make great Ricotta Cheese. If you would like to check that Instructable out go to:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Great-Ricotta-Cheese-From-Whey

Do you like Pizza? Check out my Quick Simple Individual Pizza Instructable at:
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-Quick-Simple-Individual-Pizzas/

There you have it. Try it out and let me know how it works out for you. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions leave me a note here or email me at mikemwa@sbcglobal.net.

If you liked this Instructable (Or even if you don't) Please rate it.

Enjoy
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Alternative to a microwave?

If using liquid rennet, how much do you use?

Finally! Storebought mozzarella is never enough!

smc9772 months ago

great recipe worked first time round for me I will never buy mozzarella again thanks

itsmrsbell2u3 months ago

I have looked over the instructions and I do not see at what point do you add the salt.

I made it and it came perfect... hooked for sure. I think I need to add salt and I have cheese salt.. but not sure when to put it so I do not spoil the process.

len.mac.93 months ago

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I had tried to make cheese on multiple attempts all ending in a dismal failure.... I walked away from the project for a few months then happened upon your instructions. The first thing I noticed were a lot more steps involved with more "waiting" intervals, I decided to give it one more shot. I have a delicious success. The time you took to create this page is much appreciated. Now I must go, I need to make some Ricotta.

qwktlkr4 months ago

After failing yesterday in our first effort to make homemade mozzarella, we found your much more descriptive recipe - with tons of the most helpful, fabulous photos - and then just gave your directions a go. THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing your photos and lessons learned!!!! OUR CHEESE CAME OUT PERFECT!! (The only down side is now my belly is stuffed to the brim cuz I couldn't stop eating it - and I have dinner plans! Lol.)

If you're new to cheese making - these directions are THE BEST!!

MElastiGirl5 months ago
Just one more question... I used a liquid vegetarian rennet--the same all three times. Is it possible it has gone bad? In doing some additional reading, this is the only thing I can think of. The package said it was double-strength, and I honestly didn't know how much to use. The first few times I used a quarter teaspoon; the third I used close to a half. Maybe it still wasn't enough? I'm probably overthinking this, but I'm about to make another batch, and I hate to sacrifice another gallon of this awesome milk. (It's low-heat pasteurized, organic, non-homogenized milk from a local farm--awesome stuff.)

Used double-strength liquid rennet today, first time making the cheese. Plastic rennet bottle said to use 1/6 tsp for 2 gallons - so we used a tad under 1/8 tsp for 1 gallon whole milk - and the cheese came out perfect! :)

Sawowie XD made it!4 months ago

I MADE CHEESE,

I can't believe how simple this was, the hardest part was converting from Fahrenheit to Celsius.

I was a little scared that I might heat it up too much in the microwave, so it took me a while to get it hot enough to all 'melt' together.

It was so good, used it all straight away on my home made pizzas :D

11072600_10204575468921601_1992162243_n.jpg11062992_10204575877531816_1301773250_n.jpg
Sawowie XD made it!4 months ago

I MADE CHEESE,

I can't believe how simple this was, the hardest part was converting from Fahrenheit to Celsius.

I was a little scared that I might heat it up too much in the microwave, so it took me a while to get it hot enough to all 'melt' together.

It was so good, used it all straight away on my home made pizzas :D

11072600_10204575468921601_1992162243_n.jpg11062992_10204575877531816_1301773250_n.jpg
Culciambo5 months ago

Ok, everything is fine but what if -believe it or not- I don't have a microwave or an oven? Should I put heat it on a pot on the stove?

That's no problem, presumably you at least have an element or hot plate since you must have heated up the milk to get that far....after draining the curds, put the whey back on the stove and reheat it a bit. Put your curds on a skimmer, slotted spoon, etc, and lower into the whey just enough to cover. Have a small finger bowl of cold water around, when the curds start to get a bit of the melt-y look to them you can remove from the whey and work them with your fingers as above after dipping your hand in the cool water - since the cheese, obviously, will be hot.

JaneS74 months ago

I've been afraid to try, although the ricotta I make is great, mozzarella looks so much harder. I like the feedback I see here.

Is it possible to use vegetarian rennet, or is there a vegetarian replacement for the rennet in this recipe? What kind of adjustments are necessary?

colorkitten made it!5 months ago
came out perfectly our very first try, my daughter was thrilled! especially appreciated that your photos and descriptions of the microwaving step let me off the hook after killing the battery in my digital thermometer, thanks!
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MElastiGirl made it!5 months ago
Oops--this would be the result...
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MElastiGirl5 months ago
This is the result from my first try--made the sauce and pizza crust, too!
MElastiGirl5 months ago
Well, I made this three times. The first--perfect mozz and ricotta. The second--I totally messed up the temperature, among other things (I almost boiled the milk, added the citric acid and rennet too late, etc.)--still managed some awesome cheese. Third time--I thought I had it all figured out, but I ended up with a pile of mush. The only thing I did differently was that I used about a gallon and a quarter of milk and adjusted the other ingredients accordingly. Anybody out there have any idea what I might have done? I don't believe I over-microwaved it, which is the only explanation I can think of. Sigh... Well, the good news is--my mush pile actually tastes awesome, so I think I'm going to repurpose it as a manicotti filling!
niki.mott.31 made it!6 months ago

We made this, except we didn't have that film of curd form... it was just broken up curd and stayed like that... so we just continued and followed the steps still, and it still turned out fine and tastes amazing! :D Not sure why my curd stayed watery though!??? Hope it's still good to eat cause we've been eating it! HAHAHA

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niki.mott.316 months ago
longp2000 made it!6 months ago

I had some problem getting it stretchy but it worked okay. I was making butter at the same time and I have to say that it would've been better to only do one project at a time. It tastes good. Nice instructable. My son loves this cheese.

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FaribaA7 months ago

Hi, unfortunately i don't have a Microwave! I wonder wheter it is possible to make this cheese without a Microwave or not?

cperosi FaribaA7 months ago
You can make it by putting it in hot water - the water should start off just a tiny bit hotter than what you can stand putting your hands into. My hot from the tap works fine for this, but yours may not be hot enough. (We have out hot water heater on max.) The curd will cool it just enough to be able to work it in the water.

Work it the same way as it says here, in and out of the water, gently squeezing, then stretching and pulling and finally kneading. Kneading is probably a bad word for this, as working it too much will yield tough mozzarella... But the process is the same as rolling a dough ball for pizza... Just do it gently. It doesnt much matter when you're eating it immediately - I haven't been able to make one that came out too tough, even while trying to do exactly that. Of course, I haven't figured out a way to not eat every last bite either, so I haven't been able to test longevity in the fridge. ;-)

Anyway, this is the "old world way" as fresh mozzarella has been around many centuries longer than microwaves. ;-) I haven't tried the microwave way yet, as it's such a no-no in any real cooking... But for this particular process, I can't see it doing any real harm unless you don't pay attention to the times listed...
stevegcook7 months ago
The trick to getting really good mozzarella is to get all of the whey out of the curd. I work it out like playdough until it is almost dry before i begin stretching it out. A double boiler works a lot better than the microwave for controlling temp and removing whey from curd. Otherwise this tutorial is about perfect.
dbccj2a7 months ago

Just finished my first. While cleaning up I could not resist eating the little bit that was left in the bowl. OMG the taste was so much better than store bought. Next time I will add the second tsp of salt for my taste. Now I must get in the refrigerator for tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and crackers.

kcryss8 months ago

Great instructions! Thank you so much for sharing. I've made mozzarella twice now, the first time using a different recipe with good results but not great. This one worked perfect! I also made the Ricotta from the whey following the link provided at the end of this instructable and it was wonderful as well! Tomorrow I will use the whey from the Ricotta to make gjetost as mentioned by another commenter from the ricotta instructable. So, 1 gallon of Milk (2%, store bought from King Soopers/Kroger) = 1 lb mozzarella, ~8 ounces ricotta, and Gjestost!. I've purchased Gjestost from my local store in the past and it was rather pricey! Looking forward to making it as a perk from the mozzarella. I only have Junket Rennet so used 2 tablets as it does not contain as much rennet as other sources.

BelAlex8 months ago

This sounds like something I would love to do for I often make eggplant Parmesan. But how do I do it without a microwave. I don't own a microwave.Help !

I will try this recipe and will try 1/2 gal of whole milk purchased from a farm. However, will be using liquid rennent instead of the tablet. Can tell me how much liquid rennent to use?

Colleen1958 made it!9 months ago

I've made this several times before - but once in a while it just doesn't want to come together at the end (after microwaving)... I found that by adding some freshly grated parm cheese and stirring rapidly it comes together perfectly...

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omg, why? Why isn't this working? I would really like to actually talk to someone as I've wasted about $200. On milk to make a seemingly easy recipe work. And I owned a cookie company! Why can't I get this? I'm seriously so upset

firedog7211 months ago

Looking for a little help please. This is my first attempt with this instructable and I followed it word for word but it just didn't work. I have tried to make Mozzarella many times before years back and finally threw in the towel after over 50 attempts, no joke. My wife was tired of me wasting all those gallons of milk. However, I normally made it to the stretching stage but this time I couldn't make the milk curd. At 50 F, I diluted 1 tbs of cheese grade citric acid into 1/4 cup of unchlorinated water and dumped it into one gallon of whole milk and stirred it. I then sprinkled the other tbs of citric acid into the milk and stirred. I then warmed it to 89 F using a gas stove, dumped 1/4 teaspoon of animal liquid rennet in it and stirred for 30 seconds and covered. My problem started here, I could never get a clean break even after 30 minutes. I did cut the curd into squares and heated it to 108 F but it was down hill from there and I ended it dumping it. The only thing that I may have done wrong is that I notice on my bottle of rennet hat it said to mix the rennet with water 20/1 and I did not not. But as far as the temperatures and the times, I was on the money. I have no idea what went wrong, I need help, please help......

It sounds like you may be stirring it to much in the mid to latter stages of the process. And actually you really dont want so much of a "stir" as say just a very quick "mix" with a slow up and down motion as opposed to a tight, quick, circular one. Just a guess.

I've tried 3 times but my cheese never gets stretchy:( I use milk straight from the cow, rain water from our catchment tank, liquid animal rennet but I am using white vinegar because I have no citric acid, is that what's wrong? I get a beautiful break and lovely curds but no creamy mozz! HELP. I'm in Vanuatu, so no place to get the citric acid powder (at least for weeks)...

Hi, I made this cheese today according to your recipe.. it turned out wonderful and shiny and oooey gooey good.. perfect. I did think the cheese was too hot when I was stretching it but when I put the thermometer in it was only 125 degrees.. perfect.. I will do this again, and again, and again..

Hi, I made this cheese today according to your recipe.. it turned out wonderful and shiny and oooey gooey good.. perfect. I did think the cheese was too hot when I was stretching it but when I put the thermometer in it was only 125 degrees.. perfect.. I will do this again, and again, and again..

TkZ110 months ago

Yikes! Several times during this process I was second guessing myself. My clean break wasn't as firm as the pic, my curds were small. Never fear, persevere! I'm now eating creamy mozzarella. YUM. Now, if only I could learn to make wine.....

What would happen if I used an aluminum pot? I have Magnalite brand pots and they are an aluminum and magnesium blend. I tried to google what would happen but couldn't find any info. Thanks!

Anything acidic like lemon juice, vinegar and citric acid can discolor and pit the aluminum. Aluminum and acids don't work well together.

nancy49001 year ago

I bought liquid rennet. How much do I use (instead of the tablets)

Sunbunny1 year ago
I would like to add mild lipase powder for added flavoring. Between which steps in your process should I do this. Thank you.
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