If you have ever wanted to make your own cheese but thought it would be too hard, too complicated or take too long, stop thinking about it and make some cheese.
The whole process took less than 45 minutes, start to finish, and was easier than making pancakes.
Once you have the rennet and the citric acid, all you need is a gallon of milk, salt to taste, a thermometer and a microwave.
The recipe I followed was from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company:
1 gallon of whole milk (not ultra pasteurized)
1 1/2 level tsp of citric acid, dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
1/4 tsp liquid vegetable rennet, diluted in cool water
Dissolve the citric acid in water in a small glass or plastic cup and set aside. Dilute the rennet in a small glass or plastic cup and set aside.
Pour the milk into an 8 quart stainless steel pot and heat slowly until it reaches a temperature of 55 degrees then add the citric acid solution and stir thoroughly. I used a stainless steel whisk for this.
When the milk reaches 88 degrees, it will begin to curdle
Pour in the rennet and fold it in with gentle scooping motions.
Continue heating until the temperature reaches just over 100 degrees.
At this point, the curds should be pulling away from the edge of the pot and the whey should look clear, not cloudy.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the curds from the pot and place them in a two quart microwaveable bowl.
Press the curds gently with your hands to remove as much hey as possible - this takes a few minutes.
Microwave the curds for 1 minute on high then knead the cheese with your hands or the back of a spoon to remove more whey.
Microwave two more times for 35 seconds, kneading the curds each time to remove more whey. At this point, add salt to taste.
Remove the cheese from the bowl and knead and pull it until it is smooth and elastic. If it starts to break apart, reheat for another 35 seconds.
When the curds can be stretched like taffy, the cheese is finished and can be rolled into one large ball or several small balls. The mozzarella can be eaten right away warm or stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Don't discard the whey. You can use it to make ricotta cheese later.