Have you noticed the revival of home dairy products? All it takes these days is a scroll through the multitudes of homesteading accounts on social media to discover that folks are jumping onto the homemade cheese-making bandwagon. It is tempting to think that home dairy is a trend or a fad, but, in reality, all dairy products were produced in home kitchens by our ancestors. These are exciting times as we find ourselves surrounded by folks who are reviving those abandoned home dairy arts to create all sorts of products like butter, yogurt and cheese.
While producing butter and yogurt at home are certainly attainable goals that are perfect for beginning home dairy enthusiasts, have you considered homemade mozzarella cheese? Not only are folks learning to become producers rather than consumers, we are finding joy and satisfaction in learning new skills which feed our families. The process can be quite rewarding and fun. My favorite part about mozzarella cheesemaking is the stretching stage. Talk about satisfying! In one of my recent cheesemaking classes, the attendees were clapping with delight at the long stretch we achieved.
Buffalo mozzarella, or Fresh Mozzarella, is a soft, uncured cheese that is super on homemade pizza, a sandwich or enjoyed in a delightful summer Caprese Salad. There is nothing better than fresh mozzarella with homegrown sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil and cracked black pepper. (Well, a homegrown tomato sandwich on white bread with mayo rivals it, but I digress.)
As you set out on your homemade mozzarella cheesemaking journey, keep these tried-and-true tips in mind.
Everything you will need to make cheese is found at Lehman’s. (Well, except the milk…and we’ll go over that I in a second.) This cheesemaking kit is really a great place to start. I began with this kit many cheese batches ago and have learned a few things that I share when I teach others the art of cheesemaking. While the kit is convenient, the various individual components for cheesemaking may also be found both at the flagship Lehman’s store in Kidron, Ohio, and at Lehmans.com.
The basic components are citric acid, rennet, milk, and standard kitchen items like salt, thermometer, stock-pot, strainer, measuring spoons, bowls…items you probably already own. Once the citric acid and rennet are obtained, homemade cheese may be made anytime you feel like it.
The steps involve heating the milk, adding the components, cutting curds, straining, stretching and forming.
The quality of milk and water matters. Milk for mozzarella making may be raw or pasteurized. It can be homogenized or non-homogenized. Avoid buying ultra-pasteurized milk as it has been overly processed at the dairy facility. Source the best and freshest milk possible. If using raw milk, adjustments should be made, such as more citric acid and different heating temperatures. This information may be found in the booklet of the kit. Water should be unchlorinated. Our family has used the Berkey water filter system for years.
Be kind to yourself. Although the kit I mentioned states that cheese may be made in thirty minutes, and it really isn’t daunting, you’ll need to get past the first attempt. It’s okay if your first batch looks to be a sad mess. Although my first attempt appeared a little frightening, it was actually very tasty. My second and further attempts were super-delightful. The process, like most new skills, becomes easier and more fun with each attempt.
It helps to have a cheesemaking partner. Grab a friend or relative. My youngest son enjoys helping make cheese. Having someone to help stir and watch the temperature can be super-helpful as you learn the process. Plus, you need someone to cheer you on during that fun stretching stage.
Are you ready? Before you know it, you’ll snub that take-out pizza because your homemade pizza topped with fresh mozzarella just can’t be beat. You can do this!
Watch our cheese making video with Mrs. Katie to learn more.