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Kitchen Curds...Mozzarella!

I am definitely a cheese head...I've said it before and I'll say it again...from the rooftops! So imagine how excited I was when my pal Natashya told me about Kitchen Curds...a group based at the blog it's not you, it's brie! The current challenge was making homemade Mozzarella. I've made mozzarella before, but it's been quite a while, so I was excited to do it again!

You really only need a few basic ingredients for making your own Mozzarella...a wooden spoon, a large, wide slotted spoon, a thermometer, a large, heavy pot, liquid rennet & citric acid. Liquid rennet & citric acid are easy to find at cheese making shops & sites. I ordered mine from The Cheesemaker (he's awesome).
It also helps to start with really good quality milk! I was fortunate enough to find a local, organic, grass-fed dairy herd to become a shareholder in. It is a fabulous opportunity...raw milk straight from the heat killing all of those beneficial nutrients. I've bonded with the cows through milking and caring for them and of course the kiddos go crazy for visiting the farm where our cows live! We've seen 2 seasons of babies being born (adorable) and we've even fed the babies from nippled buckets. I cannot tell you how much we have benefited from every aspect of being shareholders in a dairy herd. You can read more about the benefits of raw milk here. Try searching Local Harvest to see if there are any in your area. That being said, if you do not have access to raw milk (as it is actually illegal to sell...not to drink- go figure!), you can use store-bought milk.

Our jars of raw milk...see the way the layer of cream rises to the top! We often transfer to larger jars once we get the milk home (to use less room in the refrigerator).
I will now step off of my soap box and show you the (surprisingly super-simple) mozzarella making process.
Microwave Mozzarella
makes ~1 lb., prep time 30 minutes
from The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley (w/ some of my thoughts thrown in)

1 gallon whole or low-fat milk
2 tsp. citric acid powder
1/4 tsp. liquid rennet
1/4 c. cool water (55-60 degrees F)
Pour the milk into a large, heavy-bottomed pot and add the citric acid, stirring for 2 minutes. Bring the milk to 105 degrees F. (It doesn't matter whether you stir). Check the temperature with a thermometer. Remove the pot from heat.
In a small cup, dissolve the rennet in the water. Add this mixture to the milk and stir for 30 seconds. Cover the pot and let stand for 15 minutes.
Using a wide, shallow ladle, scoop the curds carefully into a microwave-safe bowl and pour off and press out the excess liquid.
Microwave on high for 1 minute. Pour off excess liquid, being careful because it will be very hot. Turn curd and microwave on high for 30 seconds longer. Remove cheese from microwave. Drain off excess whey. Repeat process, draining and pressing off excess whey... until no whey is left.

Using a wooden spoon (or your hands...super careful, it's hot), stir and stretch the cheese for about 10 minutes or until it's stringy and shiny. If the mozzarella cools too much, it will become hard to stretch. If this happens, reheat the cheese for 30 second intervals until it becomes pliable again.

Shape your mozzarella how you wish...a big ball or little balls (bocconcini-esque) like I did. The mozzarella can be served right away or refrigerated, covered in water, for up to three days. Change the water after a day or two.

It's kind of hard to believe that you can make homemade mozzarella in 30 minutes, isn't it!? But it worked...would I lie to you? Would the pictures lie to you? There is also a recipe for making it on stove top in the book, which takes about double the time, so still...not that long for homemade cheese. It is absolutely delicious...tune back in soon to find out what I'm going to do with the cheese (no teasers, because I'm not even sure yet). If I can keep myself from just popping them all into my mouth.
If you want to learn more...or practice more...cheese making with the Kitchen Curds group, you're just in time to join in the next will be announced soon!