Pretty Cheese – No Microwave

The first time I made mozzarella, it wasn’t pretty. It was a crumbly mess. (See last image below). It tasted SO great on homemade pizza so wasn’t a total loss, but I wanted to know what I did wrong. After reading a bunch of different cheese-making sites, I figured it out. I had used Pioneer Woman’s recipe on her site, but because the husband is not a fan of the microwave, I skipped the microwave steps and just tried to get all the whey out by kneading. Now, I understand that getting the curds warm enough to melt together is key. Not wanting to use the microwave, I thought about what else might work. It was a gamble, but crumbly cheese is still good cheese, so I went for it. (On a side note, I also decided that since the recipe is the same for cottage cheese, I would make 1/3 of the gallon into cottage cheese.)

I used the standard mozzarella recipe: (some references – Pioneer Woman, cheesemaking.com)

1/4 tablet of vegetable rennet dissolved in 1/2 cup filtered water
1 1/2 tsp citric acid
1 gallon RAW local full-fat milk
1 tsp salt

I used two pots. One was heating about 6 cups of water on low and the other was for the milk. I poured the gallon of milk in one of the large stainless steel stock pots and turned the stove on med heat.
I sprinkled the citric acid over the milk and stirred it in. I heated the milk to 85 degrees, turned off the burner and poured the dissolved rennet water into the pot and lightly stirred again and then stilled the milk. It sat for 5 minutes until it had set. I cut through the set in a grid pattern. (At this point I took out 1/3 of the curds and put them in a bowl to sit longer for cottage cheese). I heated the curds and whey to 105 – until the curds started to melt and stretch. Using a slotted spoon, I scooped out the curds and put them in a colander in a bowl and drained the whey off.

Here’s where recipes call for putting the curds in the microwave, and here’s where my method differs. I worked some of the whey out with my hands, salted the curds and kneaded it just enough to pack the curds together. I placed the whole ball into the pot of heated water (I would guess about 110-120 degrees) and let it sit for about 20 seconds and I pulled it out and kneaded and stretched the ball and then put it back in the water one more time and pulled it out after 20 seconds and formed my final ball.

It looks pretty this time and there was no microwave involved.



2 Thoughts on “Pretty Cheese – No Microwave

  1. Pingback: How Real Foods Made My Plantar Fasciitis Worse | The Reluctant Healthwife

  2. Pingback: Oh, Sweet Ricotta! This Was Supposed to Be Yogurt. | The Reluctant Healthwife

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