1. Getting everything together:
We begin by collecting and sanitizing all of our equipment and gathering the ingredients. A 2 gallon pot for the milk, a sharp knife, a colander, a couple of bowls, measuring cup, and slotted spoon plus the ingredients and thermometer that came in your '30 minute mozzarella kit' are what should be in front of you now. Also place another pot of water on to heat (you will need to get it to 175F.. this will be used later for stretching). Measure 1/4 tsp of liquid or add 1/4 rennet tablet into 1/4 cup of cool water and set aside.Next Measure out 1.5 tsp of citric acid into a 1/2 cup measure of cool water and place this in your milk pot. Now pour your milk into this pot with the citric acid and stir well. Some curdling will take place because the milk is now quite acidic .. No worries. Place the milk pot into the sink and fill your sink with very hot water (110-125F should do). Stir the milk while watching the temperature rise to 90F. If your sink water bath is still very hot you may need to add some cold water to it to keep the milk from rising over 90F at this point. ...NOTE... if having problems with milk forming a proper curd you may need to increase this temp to 95 or even 100F
2. Setting the milk:
Now we are ready to make the milk into Mozzarella. Begin by adding the rennet diluted in water to the milk, stirring up and down for 30 seconds and then letting everything rest quietly. In about 5 minutes a curd should have formed as shown in the 2 photos on the right. If it seems a bit soft at this point it will be OK to wait another 3-5 minutes. Test it by pulling the curd away from the pot with the back of the hand and it should show a bit of clear whey. If a firm curd does not form please see note above.
3. Separating the curds and whey:
First you will cut the curd with the knife into about 1 inch squares. Let this rest for 2-3 minutes. While you are waiting drain the water from the sink and add new hot water to the sink at about 110-115F. Using your slotted spoon, scoop the curd from the pot into the colander and allow the whey to drain into another bowl. When done transferring the curd to the colander, pour the whey back into your milk pot resting in the sink of hot water. Rest the colander with curd in the pot of whey (notice that the curd in the photo above is reading an ideal pH of 5.2 due to the citric acid you added) to keep the curd warm and add a little salt to your taste (1/4-1/2 tsp if you like), the salt will work into the cheese in the following steps . You may now fold this curd over on itself as it drains to increase the amount of whey running off. The more you work the curd at this point the drier the Mozzarella will be.
4. Stretching the curds:
Now we are ready to heat the curds and stretch them. Begin by pouring some of the hot water that has been simmering on the stove into another bowl and adjust it's temp to about 175F. This will be too hot for your hands so have thick rubber gloves or use the slotted spoon to work the curd in the hot water. Next cut or break the curd into 1-2 inch pieces and begin placing them into the hot water. Work the curd quickly at this point by pressing them together and folding over in the hot water to facilitate even heating. It will begin to get quite sticky at this point. As the curd begins to meld together pull it from the hot water and begin to stretch it. If the curd does not stretch check and adjust your water temperature and re immerse the curd. At first it may be a bit lumpy but as you stretch the curd, it will become quite smooth. Stretch it out several times and fold it back on itself and repeat. If it begins to cool too much (you will notice it begin to tear), place it back in the hot water to reheat. When it seems to form a consolidated mass and develop a sheen (stretches like taffy) you are ready to pull it all back into a ball for your final cheese.
5. Chill and Brine
At this point your Mozzarella is finished and you can make a brine with 2-3 tbs. of salt plus 2-3 tbsp of your clear whey in a quart of very cold water. This will chill the cheese and help it hold it's shape.
The beauty of this process is two fold:
1. You can control the amount of moisture in the cheese by the amount of kneading and stretching you do.
2. You can stop at the end of step #3, place it in a sealed bowl, chill, and take it out the next day and complete the process when you are ready for fresh Mozzarella.