How to Make Mozzarella Cheese

Want to know what makes me excited (besides little plastic drawers)?  The fact that with only two gallons of  milk…I can squeeze out THREE great dairy products.  With the two gallons of raw milk you see pictured below, I was able to make three eight ounce balls of mozzarella cheese…a half pound of butterand about a cup of ricotta cheese

Talk about milking something for all it’s worth!  (Whoa…very cheesy joke.)  (Which I feel is appropriate because this post is about making…cheese.  Cheesy-ness abounds.)  Anyway

Even if you don’t think you’ll ever make your own mozzarella cheese…you may still have fun reading about how it’s made!

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To make Mozzarella Cheese you will need:

  • Two gallons of milk (I use raw, organic) (As far as I understand, you can use pasteurized and homogenized milk too…although you won’t get the butter and ricotta out of it since the cream doesn’t rise to the top.)
  • 2 teaspoons citric acid dissolved in 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup cultured buttermilk
  • 30 drops vegetable rennet mixed with 1/4 cup water (I get my rennet from Azure Standard or Wilderness Family Naturals.)
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1/2 cup sea salt
  • Large stock pot
  • Long knife
  • Food thermometer
  • Strainer
  • Tea towels

Okay, ready to make cheese?  You’ll need to block out about two and a half to three hours of time…but most of that time is wait time, not work time!

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First, if you’re using raw milk…skim off the cream.  You know I’m usually big on leaving in the fat…but the fat separates itself out of the cheese while you’re making it for some reason.   So, skim it off, put it into another jar and save it for making butter!

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Pour the milk into a large pot (I use my big stock pot).  Stir in the buttermilk and citric acid mixed with water.  Heat to 91 degrees.  Remove from heat, put the lid on and let it sit for one hour. 

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Add the rennet mixed with water to the milk.  Allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes, or until the milk solidifies slightly and it able to be “sliced”.

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Use a long knife to “cut the curd” into one inch squares. 
Let the curd sit about five minutes.

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Heat the curd to 91 degrees.  Remove from heat, place the lid on the pot and allow it to sit for one hour.  After one hour, the curd and the whey should have separated.

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Place a strainer into another large pot and cover it with a tea towel.

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Pour the curds into the strainer/tea towel…straining out as much whey as you can.  Save the whey!!

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Rig up something fancy like this to hang your curds, making sure you have a bowl underneath to catch more whey that will drip out.  I usually leave mine overnight as it takes several hours for all of the whey to be removed.

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In the morning…remove the tea towel.  Wow, a big hunk of cheese!  Now…the fun part begins!

In your large pot…heat one gallon of water mixed with 1/2 cup salt.  (Hint:  I use Redmonds Real Sea Salt and it can be too chunky if I don’t try to dissolve some of it first.  Therefore, I put my water and salt into a jar and shake it well, then pour it into the pot.  The residue from the salt remains in the jar, leaving only salty water…without chunks!

Heat the salt water to 170 degrees.  Meanwhile… 

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Cut the cheese (oh, my boys think it’s SO FUNNY when I say that…) into 1-2 inch squares.

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Once your water reaches 170 degrees, remove it from the heat and dump in your cheese.  Kind of stir it around for a minute or two until the cheese softens and begins sticking together.

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Use a big wooden spoon to catch the cheese from the water.  It should start sticking together and forming a blob on your spoon.  Stretch the cheese.  This part is SO COOL!!  Dip it down into the hot water every once in a while to reheat the cheese so that it will continue to stretch, but try not to keep it in the water too long.  Keep on stretching and dipping the cheese until it is shiny.  This stretching process will take about 8 minutes.  (Every once in a while I get a batch of cheese that just won’t stretch.  It’s a bummer.  The cheese still tastes fine…it just doesn’t look as pretty, shred as well, or melt as nicely.  We eat it anyway!)

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After you’ve stretched your cheese and it has formed a big long shiny wad, take it out and put it onto a plate. 

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I divide my cheese into three blobs.  Squeeze out the excess water and shape the cheese into nice balls. 

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Place the balls into a bowl of cold water.  This will take out the heat and help them hold their shape.

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Tada!!!  Mozzarella Cheese! 

I’ll take time during my next two Frugal Friday posts to share how I make butter with the leftover cream…and ricotta cheese with the leftover whey!  

So…have you ever made cheese before?  Do you think this process looks like something you could do?  You wanna come over and make cheese with me some time?  (Then we can say “cut the cheese” together and laugh like we’re really funny.)

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Comments

  1. resolutiontolearntocook says

    My milk did not solidify. I first gave it the 15 minutes…then 1 hour. Should I just start over? : ( or wait even longer?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Hmm, you probably don’t have to start over, just add more rennet and try again?

    [Reply]

  2. Allison says

    I had a lovely ball of cheese in my tea towel, but when I cut it and added it to the 170 degree brine, it dissolved completely. It never stuck together. What did I do wrong?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Cheese is super finicky. It’s hard to know what went wrong. That has happened to me before too. Hopefully it still tasted okay!

    [Reply]

    Amanda Reply:

    I had that happen also. I saved the little crumbles…it reminded me of cottage cheese. It tasted like Mozzerella so we used it in lasagna as a layer and it tasted/worked great.

    [Reply]

  3. Mrs. Hill says

    I’m looking forward to cheesemaking. I have access to a dairy cow and have made butter and some Ricotta — who knew! However, I’m looking at a wine cellar appliance to also get into some aged cheesemaking. I’m so excited. Just taking smaller steps first.

    I love your site! I am a stay at home wife (kids are gone). My philosophy in the area of household finances is if I can make it myself I do. If I can repurpose something for something else we need, I do. If I can use it (as a starter) to keep perpetuating it without the need to keep purchasing some product commercially, I will. I see it as my responsibility to be economical and keep my husband and I healthy. It is in the true spirit of being an advantage to my husband as a helpmeet. I love it.

    [Reply]

  4. paula says

    DOH! I didn’t read the post about making butter first! Oh well…I had the same “solidifying” problem with my milk, took your advice, added more rennet and “Whoo hoo, L@@KIE there!!” I have nice curds! Thanks for your lovely, informative posts (I used 2TBS of lemon juice…BTW….as I could not wait to get citric acid in the mail and I didn’t want to drive 30 miles to find it!)Today mozzarella, tomorrow ricotta! I am so happy!

    [Reply]

    Susie Day Reply:

    I found citric acid at bi-mart of all places. Look for it with the canning supplies :-)

    [Reply]

  5. says

    I tried making th e mozzarella cheese ,I followed every step. It all looked like your picture,until it was time to stretch it. It didn’t stretch. I ended up putting it into 3 balls then I put it into the water. What could have happened. Thanks Donna

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Ugh, I hate it when all the steps go well and the cheese still doesn’t stretch. You likely didn’t do anything wrong – sometimes the temperature, humidity, and who knows what other elements keep the cheese from stretching. :(

    [Reply]

  6. Emmie says

    Our mozzarella dissolved in the water when we tried to stretch it. Do you know what we did wrong? Also, when we left it to drain overnight, it didn’t hold its shape all nicely in the morning like yours did.

    [Reply]

    Emmie Reply:

    I saw another recipe that called for calcium chloride. What do you think of that?

    [Reply]

    Amber Reply:

    Calcium chloride will prevent the cheese from stretching. So I don’t recommend it for mozarella cheese.

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    Laura’s does that sometimes too. She said it is fine to eat, although she understands the frustration!

    [Reply]

  7. Kim C says

    We recently made mozzarella and it seemed to work fine except that the finished product was very very dense. It definitely wasn’t like a fresh mozzarella. Any ideas why?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Hmm, I’m not sure. I have made this cheese several times, but I definitely don’t feel that I am an expert by any means. While following the same instructions, sometimes mine turns out well and sometimes it doesn’t.

    [Reply]

    Karl B. Reply:

    Quite possibly cut the curd too small. The larger your curd is to begin with the more moisture it will retain. Since mozzarella is a high moisture cheese you should cut the curds no smaller than an inch square. It may also help with the lack of “stretchability”

    [Reply]

  8. says

    So, I was wondering if you could use the buttermilk leftover from the butter?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    No, that won’t work for this. The buttermilk you use for making cheese needs to be cultured.

    [Reply]

    Rose Reply:

    what if I make cultured butter? then it would be cultured buttermilk, would it not? it’s not quite as thick as the storebought kind, but it smells like it and use it in baking and stuff.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, I’ve never done it this way – I usually use homemade, thick buttermilk. But I think it would work to use your thinner buttermilk from making cultured butter.

  9. Dara says

    Everything looked great until I put the ball of curds in the 170 degree water – then it disintegrated! I’ve made mozzarella before with other recipes that said not to heat the cheese warmer than 135 degrees. It seemed to me like the water was just too hot and it melted the curds. Is 170 degrees the right temperature? Otherwise, I was really impressed with the way the cheese seemed to be turning out.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’ve done this successfully at 170 degrees, but maybe try it at 135 next time to see how it goes. Glad it turned out well otherwise!

    [Reply]

  10. Rebecca says

    I’ve seen other recipes without the cultured buttermilk. Will it still work if I leave it out?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’ve never done it without the buttermilk, so I don’t know for sure.

    [Reply]

  11. Amrit says

    Thanks Laura, your recipe has reached delhi, India, will give it a try for sure :)…Can I replace, citric acid with vinegar, rennet with yogurt and sea salt with regular iodised salt? Asking as wont be able to find above items in grocery stores in my area. Thanks in advnace for help and sharing such a wonderful recipe :)

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Ummmmm, I think I can answer yest to all of your questions, but I’ve never tried it that way so I’m not entirely sure!

    [Reply]

    soph Reply:

    You can replace citric acid with yogurt. There’s no replacement for rennet if ou want curd formation unless you can find junket tablets in your area. I suggest you order some from nNew england cc cheesemaking supply company(That’s where I got mine). It’s not that expensive buying just the rennet tablets plus normal shipping. Just takes longer to arrive. And you do need a food thermometer. As for the salt, how about himalayan pink salt or rocksalt? Though salting it is of course optional..

    [Reply]

  12. Rachelle says

    I was just wondering, what do/can you do with the left over whey ???? I saw you said to save it :-)
    Thanks for the help. Also for the citric acid, can you use crushed up Vit.C? nobody sells it around here.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    You can save the whey to use when fermenting vegetables, although I haven’t done much of that to be able to give details. :) You can try the crushed up vitamin C, but I haven’t ever done that to tell you if it works or not.

    [Reply]

    Elaine Statema Reply:

    I use whey in making sauerkraut but it doesn’t use very much up. I am sure it could be used in baking breads or cakes in place of the liquid. Of course, it wrecks it’s probiotic properties then. You say ricotta is made with whey?

    [Reply]

    Jamie Reply:

    I’ve heard adding it to cultured dairy products extends their shelf life
    tremendously. Like mayo and sour cream. Haven’t done it myself though

    [Reply]

  13. Jody says

    We tried this tonite and worked great. It did tart falling apart at the stretching step but we noticed it correlated with the temperature drop so we reheated the water back to 170 and it came back together and stretched fine. We tried to hold the temp around 170 til we were done with that step.

    [Reply]

  14. Rebekah says

    Rennet (non-veggie) is from the lining of calves. Read Little House on the Prairie, Pa kills a calf to have some rennet for Ma to make cheese. Somewhere I think I heard that millenia ago they stored milk in (ugh) calves’ stomachs and when they were ready to use it, voila! They discovered cheese! However they figured it out, thank Jesus for His amazing creation! :)

    [Reply]

  15. says

    Hi. :) I came across your post searching for information on skimming raw milk for cheese. I just made my first cheese today and I wanted to ask if you really only get that much from 2 gallons. I used raw, whole milk (1 gallon). I was able to get 18 oz of mozzarella, 13 oz of ricotta and 2 1/2 quarts of whey left over. If I halved your output, I see I was able to more of both cheeses. However, since I did not skim, I did not any butter. Are you results here typical and do you think the cream made the difference in quantity yielded? Thanks for whatever or input you can share!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes these are typical results. I skim the cream because it separates out usually anyway when I’m making cheese, so I hate to waste good cream when I can use it for something else! It’s amazing how much milk it takes to make cheese. That’s why cheese isn’t terribly inexpensive. :)

    [Reply]

  16. says

    Wow. Typos. I meant to say, did you think the cream removed from your milk resulted in the slightly lesser amounts than I was able to get. And thanks for whatever advice or input. Sorry about all that. I am typing on my phone at 2:20am. :)

    [Reply]

    Misty Reply:

    I believe the product yield will vary based on the type of cow the milk came from. Jersey (brown cows) milk has a much higher butterfat content than Holstein (black and white cows) milk.

    [Reply]

  17. laura says

    Hi, could you tell me how many teaspoons of rennet is 30 drops? I have tablets and it says 1/4 tsp = 1/4 tablet.
    Also, I have looked at many other recipes before actually trying to make mozzarella and yours seems to be the only one that calls for cultured buttermilk and removing the cream. Could you tell me more about why you take those steps? At what point of the process does the fat separate from the cheese?
    Thanks in advance

    [Reply]

  18. says

    I am on a mission to make as much of my food from scratch, and learn as many food preparation processes as possible. I found your post because I googled “how to make mozzarella cheese.” Thanks for such an excellent tutorial, I can’t wait to try it!

    I already get raw whole milk and make butter from the cream. Thrilled to hear I can make ricotta from the whey as I feel wasteful throwing that out. I am definitely going to do the mozzarella – just need to find some vegetable rennet in my part of the world.

    [Reply]

    Diana Reply:

    Dogs and chooks love the whey from cheese making as long as it does not have vinegar/lemon juice added.

    [Reply]

  19. Kathy Brown says

    So I attempted making mozzarella and it won’t gel up to the custard like consistency to cut it. I used 1/2 junket rennet tablet was that the problem? Any way to salvage it?

    [Reply]

    Misty Reply:

    I had the same issue and added another 1/2 tablet and waited another 15 min. and it worked!

    [Reply]

  20. Amanda says

    I am totally new to cheesemaking and was wondering if there is a substitute for rennet and citric acid that most cheese recipes require. I do not have easy access to either product. I have read on different sites that rennin may be omitted resulting in a different consistency of product) or that it may be substituted with buttermilk or yoghurt. I appreciate your thoughts and recommendations on the matter.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’ve only made it with rennet and citric acid so I can’t say for sure. :)

    [Reply]

  21. says

    We have goats and have been making mozzarella. It is very good.

    [Reply]

    Gustavo Zenteno Reply:

    Debbie I’m tring to make motzarela this is the third time and the milk does not coagulate like when I make chees can u please email me your directions on how you make it please at gustavozenteno@yahoo.com I’m using goat milk that I milk my self

    [Reply]

  22. Diana says

    If I make a smaller amount (2 litres – 4.22 pints) do I decrease all ingredients by the same ratio?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I believe so, but haven’t tried it in smaller amounts so can’t say for sure.

    [Reply]

    Diana Reply:

    I will have to get game and give it a go. I will let you know how it works out. Diana

    [Reply]

  23. gary kosta says

    I am interested in the Italian recipie for Mozzerella. It uses a cultured soured milk instead of the citric acid step. I can get yougurt and sour cream for 50cents a pound.

    The recipies with citic acid are know as American. I think all you need to do is acidify the milk. Any acid should work, vinegar, lemon juice etc. Fruit Fresh and sour salt are two products that you find in most in grocery stores that are basically citiric acid with a fancy name on it.

    If you cook the whey a grainy cheese will settle out of it whick is riccotta.

    [Reply]

  24. Prem says

    Gary is right about using yogurt, cultured sour milk as acidifiers. I make mozzarella back in Ghana on a commercial scale. Citric acid and animal rennet are hard to come by. So I improvise using the gizzard lining of poultry for my rennet and yogurt as my acidifier. The results are good but timing is essential bcos u need to monitor the level of acidity to ensure a good stretch

    [Reply]

    Paula Reply:

    I have read alot of recipes for making mozz but they never seemed quite comprehensive enuf. This is the best recipe I’ve seen. Thx for the pics & your directions. Hope to make this soon.

    [Reply]

  25. Nate says

    Can this recipe be doubled? And about how much cheese does the recipe yield. Weight wise?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I don’t recommend doubling it. It’s pretty tricky. I’d say it yields about 1 1/2 pounds of cheese…just a guess!

    [Reply]

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