Fresh mozzarella cheese

Origins of Mozzarella

According to the historian Monsignor Alicandri, Mozzarella cheese was first made in the 12th century by the monks of San Lorenzo di Capua in Italy. Originally, it was made with sheeps milk, but in the 16th century water buffaloes were introduced to Italy and the cheese makers soon discovered that the animals’ milk was rich enough to make cheese with. Henceforth the making the mozzarella from water buffalo milk was the norm and the tradition began.

Making young cheese

NOTE: When making ‘young’ cheeses, it is recommended to use pasteurized milk. If you have access to raw milk, then step one should be to pasteurize it.


2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice

1 gallon pasteurized milk

1/8 tsp liquid rennet, diluted in 1/4 cup of cool, unchlorinated water

1 tbsp cheese salt (salt without iodine, I use canning salt)


1. Add the lemon juice to the milk and mix thoroughly.

2. Heat the milk over a low flame on the stove-top until it reaches 88 F. (The milk should start to curdle. If it doesn’t, add another tablespoon of lemon juice.)

3. Stir in the diluted rennet with an up-and-down motion. Continue heating the milk until it reaches 105 F. Turn off the heat and let the curd set until you get a clean break. This will only take about 6-5 minutes. At this stage, the curds will look like thick yogurt.

The clabbered mozzarella will hold the spoon up; it is thick like yogurt.

The clabbered mozzarella will hold the spoon up; it is thick like yogurt.

4. Scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon and place into a microwavable bowl. Press the curds gently and pour off as much when as possible being careful to save the whey (then make bread using the whey as the liquid, or feed to the chickens–they love whey!).

5. Microwave the curds in HIGH for 1 minute. Drain the whey and quickly work the cheese like bread dough. You can wear rubber gloves if you wish as the cheese will be quite hot to touch.

6. Microwave the cheese twice more for 35 seconds each. Again work the cheese into a ball draining the excess whey each time.

8. Knew quickly like bread dough until it is smooth, sprinkling with salt as you work. When the cheese is smooth it is ready to eat.

My first ever mozzarella cheese.

My first ever mozzarella cheese.

At this stage it is bocconcini and quite unlike the mass produced mozzarella of the grocery store. Hence, I use it right away. It is traditionally use on pizza Napoletana, though I found it doesn’t melt the way mass produced mozza does (this of course could be something I’m not doing quit correctly and you may have a different experience as so much about cheese making is precision related). However, instead of using it on pizza, my favourite thing to do with it is slice it thinly and layer it between slices of tomato. Then drizzle pesto sauce over top, sprinkle some toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil and some cracked pepper. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread or plain crackers. YUM. If you have pesto on hand, it is a quick and easy–yet elegant–appetizer.


Filed under cheese making, Educational, How to..., Preserving the harvest, Recipes

12 responses to “Fresh mozzarella cheese

  1. Funder

    “Pizza” mozzarella is always low-moisture part-skim. I wonder if the full fat content of regular milk changes the melting properties?

    • Something sure does! I wondered if I’d squeezed too much moisture out during the kneading process. I used farm fresh milk and skimmed off a lot of the cream for one batch (to make it theoretically like the skim milk/low fat commercial version) and made it will the full fat in another batch. Oddly, the full fat was much nicer and less dry. So, go figure, I have no idea! I’ll just have to keep experimenting until I get the technique down pat. There is a cheese-making course in Guelph that I’d love to attend…time and money eh.

      • Funder

        Still thinking about mozzarella!

        Were you using cow’s milk from a neighbor? I think I remember that your goats haven’t kidded yet…

        Anyway, what if the melty-ness of commercial mozz is because of the “low moisture” thing? Maybe try adding some powdered dry milk in with the liquid milk before heating it?

        I don’t imagine you want to buy powdered milk from who-knows-where on a regular basis, but it’d be interesting to figure out what commercial cheesemakers are doing differently from home cheesemakers.

        • It would be interesting to know what the commercial fellows are doing (mind you, I’ve not had hand made bocconcini to put on pizza before, I don’t think it melts well either). And no, not really excited about the idea of using powered milk since the scares last summer!

  2. This is something I have been thinking about looking up for ages! Thanks so much. We’re going to start with dwarfs, just milk for the two of us, and I had wanted to hunt down a few recipes.

    • My goats are the pygmy’s. They are a dwarf breed. My research has found that the pygmy’s have the highest conversion per pound of goat to milk production. We’ll see! I think at least two of mine are pregnant but it is still hard to tell. And yes, the cheese made into the appetizer was fabulous! Which breed are you folks thinking about?

  3. LittleFfarm Dairy

    Hiya K –

    I’ve done several professional cheesemaking courses, during two of which we made (amongst many other things) mozzarella. Ironically I grew to hate the stuff whilst living in Italy, as I lived just round the corner from a Mozzarella factory. What’s really funny is that not too far away from here either, is a Mozzarella factory! Not a patch in quality terms of a fine mozzarella di bufala, mind you.

    In pasta filata terms there are two grades of mozzarella: the low moisture (for pizzas) & high moisture (for salads). The type of cheese you’re making will be affected by the type of starter you’re using which should be thermophilic & produce rapid acidity (i.e. around pH 5.5) – although your method of direct acidification certainly seems to hit the spot! But in order to get the desired elasticity you really do need accurate acidity.

    The recipe I was recommended is thus:

    Milk – whole milk, pasteurised, cooled to 37 deg C;
    Starter – Thermophilic (20 units Hansens TH4/100lt), 3%. Stir for 15 minutes then spasmodically during 1 hour ripening;
    Rennet – 20mls/100 litres, diluted with 5x water, stir for 5 mins;
    Cutting – After 45 mins, cut into 1cm cubes;
    Curd Handling – Stir gently for 15 mins, pitch until pH5.5. Mill at pH5.25. Optional dry salting of curd at 1.5% w/w. Stretch by hand in water at 87-90 deg C, 1kg curd to 1 litre water;
    Mould Filling – Mould into 100g balls, cool in chilled water for 30 mins;
    Drainage – none;
    Salting – 2hrs in 2% brine, pH 5.2 (if not previously drysalted)
    Storage – Pot or bag at chill in pasteurised water (fresh cheese) 0r 1-2% brine (longer-term – but may give a slimy exterior to ball). Store at 4 deg C.
    Yield per 100 litres milk – 16 kg.

    After stretching your mozzarella balls should have a completely smooth, glossy surface (looking a bit like polished button mushrooms). The technique we were taught was that rather than kneading the curds you make it into a ball which you repeatedly turn inside-out, which gives that lovely finish.

    Adding the salt as you go may also be the cause of the slightly pockmarked appearance of your ball, rather than either dry-salting beforehand or even better, brining the cheese after formation.

    Mind you who cares what it looks like, if it tastes gorgeous…?! Sounds like you’ve got a great recipe & a quick one, too. Personally I think using powdered milk in this cheese would be a disaster; I don’t know anyone who uses it for a fine artisan cheese. Taking the fat out of the milk will make a drier cheese – the fat is what gives it that full, rounded mouthfeel. Funder is right about the fact pizza mozzarella is a low moisture pasta filata…I’d say leave that type to the commercial producers with their protein/fat-standardising direct process lines, & enjoy your fresh homemade stuff in salads. Otherwise you’ll suffer loads of frustration & possibly a lot of wasted milk!

  4. Kimberly Shelt

    How surprised am I that there are so few comments here, and so long ago.. I just found the recipe and tried it.. Cheese is in the fridge in olive oil and looks yummy πŸ™‚ Thanks for share and thanks to the eternal never ending archiving of the internet πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.