Introduction: American Mozzarella - A.K.A. Pizza Cheese

This is the recipe used for American Mozzarella or Pizza Cheese.  The difference between this and the "true" Mozzarella is simply the milk; Mozzarella traditionally uses Buffalo Milk.  The process and amounts are similar.

For a one gallon batch; yielding about a 1lb of finished product

Ingredients Needed:
1.5 tsp of citric acid,
0.5 tab of fromase rennet,
1.5 tsp of finely crushed non iodized salt,
0.25 cup of cooled dechlorinated water,
1 gal (3.8 L) of whole milk (pasteurized not ultra),
Some ice cubes and cold water.

Equipment Needed:
Ladle/spoon/stirring device
Pot capable of handling over 1 gallon (3.8 L)
Thermometer Capable to reach 105 Degrees F (40.5 C)

Step 1: Preperation

Time to prepare for your cheese Adventure!

Take your Citric Acid (1.5 teaspoons worth) and dilute it in 1/8 cup of cool water - I use distilled water which is cheap to come by here, but you could use cooled boiled water if your water source has been treated with Chlorine.

In a separate container, take your 1/2 Rennet tab (or Rennet to the manufacturer instructions), and crush it, and dilute it with the other 1/8 water - taking note of the notes above.  Place this container in the fridge or cool spot for the time being.

Take your milk out of the fridge, and set it on your counter.

*  A few words about your rennet source.  When I started, I used animal rennet (super strength) and had many failed batches.  Rennet has about a 6 month shelf life.  Mine may have been old, or improperly transported to me.  Spoken as a master of mistakes, if you find that your batches aren't curdling this is your first troubleshooting step.   In this recipe, I am using Fromase 50 rennet tabs, and they worked like a CHARM!

Step 2: A Watched Pot

Pour your citric acid mixture in a large enough pot, and dump in your milk.  The idea is to uniformly mix the citric acid with the milk, so I dump pretty aggressively then mix.

Slowly... Heat your milk mixture to 90 degrees F (32.5 C) 
  - I typically turn to medium low (electric range)

Step 3: Time to Start the Magic!

So you've hit 90 degrees (32.5 C), time to turn down the heat to maintain at that level, and put in your rennet.

Evenly distribute the pour, then stir.  Since rennet doesn't fully mix your going to want to stir in an up to down mixing method to push the rennet down to the bottom.  I stir in an up and down, left to right so the rennet is evenly pushed down all over.  Take no more than 30 seconds to do this, and you should start to see some curdling start.  Cover with a lid, and do not disturb for 30 minutes.

*Rennet works between 88 - 95 (31 - 35), so if you have an electric range like I do, don't stress on maintaining exactly 90 close is good enough.

Step 4: Clean Break

This is the make or break point.

Take the lid off and see if you have a clean break.  In all the literature this means putting your finger in and checking to see if it comes back clean.  You'll be able to feel the texture, akin to jello.  If it's not there continue to maintain 90 (32.5) and leave it for another 15 minutes.

In the failures I've experienced, no further time beyond 45 minutes makes any difference.  If it doesn't achieve a semi congealed mass by this point, pitch this batch and start over with different rennet (or try increasing the dosage).

If you do have coagulation, then slowly heat up to 105 degrees F (40.5 C).

Step 5: Squeezings

So now the fun part!  ladle out the stuff into a colander and drain off the liquid (whey).  You can save this to eat or do other things with, but that will be for another instructable.  Start squeezing the mass  the drain off all liquid.  When you've gotten out as much as you can out, transfer to a microwave safe bowl.

Microwave for 1 minute on a reduced power setting (I have the lowest wattage microwave out there and I set mine at 70%).
Dump the whey.
Microwave for an additional 30 seconds at the reduced power, and dump the whey.  It should start resembling cheese now.

Step 6: Round the Bend

Take your cheese out and add your salt.  Roll it in your hands like dough to incorporate the salt.  Start stretching like taffy and putting it back together.  

If it doesn't want to stretch, it's not warm enough - put it in the microwave for batches of about 10 seconds at a time.

When your cheese becomes slightly glossy, form it into the final shape you want it to be, and submerge into an Ice water bath for 15 minutes.  This will allow the shape to hold.

If this is not a concern...... slice and ENJOY!!

Step 7: Summary

Summary of steps

Steps -

1.  Mix citric acid with half of the water in a small container.  Mix to thoroughly combine.
2.  Mix the crushed rennet with the other half of the water in another small container. Mix to thoroughly combine, and place in fridge.
3.  Pour citric acid in a pot, then dump milk in.  Stir to combine.
4.  Heat slowly to 90, then add rennet.
5.  Cover and maintain 90 for 30 mins.
6.  Cut into curds to create small chunks, and recover for 5 minutes.
7.  Uncover and slowly heat to 105.
8.  Remove from stove and strain off the whey (liquid) from the mass.
9.  Put in a microwavable bowl, and try to squeeze more liquid out.
10.  Microwave for 1 minute, dump excessive liquid.
11.  Micorowave for an additional 30 seconds, dump excessive liquid.
12.  Take out of bowl and fold in the salt.  Should be warm enough to pull apart.  If not microwave for incredments of 10 seconds or so.
13.  Pull like taffy and roll into desired shape.
14.  Put into an ice bath for 15 minutes.

Taste your handiwork and I hope you enjoyed this Instructable!!

Cheese Challenge 2016

Participated in the
Cheese Challenge 2016