June 15, 2012

How to Make Mozzarella Cheese with Your Kids


Can I start by saying....I am not a cheese person.

I like cheese in things, like pizza or macaroni and cheese casserole. But I'm not the kind of person to just eat a slice of cheese.

In fact, you know how when you're grating cheese and you get down to that tiny piece that if you keep grating you'll grate your fingers? The piece that most people just pop in their mouth and eat?  If nobody is around to eat it for me, um, well...

.... I just throw it away.

I know, I know.  That's outrageous. Cheese lovers everywhere are unsubscribing from my blog right now.  I'm sorry, I'm just not a cheese person.

So for me, making cheese with the kids is more a food science experiment than it is a culinary adventure.  I've tasted the end product from our cheese making adventures, and it's good I suppose.  It's very mild and slightly salty. But it is fun to make, and that's the real reason we do it.

To begin you will need:


  •  A gallon of milk.  I'm Canadian, and we're weird here, so my milk is in bags.  The milk can be pasteurized but it can't be "ultra-pasteurized" because that process affects the milk's ability to coagulate.  
  • Citric acid (Available at any well stocked grocery store)
  • Rennet.  Rennet is an enzyme found in the stomachs of mammals.  (yuck, I know).  It's causes the milk to coagulate. You can buy it online here.  There are also vegetable rennets available for vegetarian cheese makers!
  •  Non-iodized salt (I used pickling salt)
  • A great big pot
  • A meat thermometer 
  • And some rubber gloves

Step One:
Fill two small bowls or cups with 1/4 cup of cool water.  To one bowl add 1 1/2 tsp citric acid and to the other add 1/4 tsp of liquid rennet.



Step Two:
Pour your milk into the giant pot and heat over medium heat until the milk measures 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  This won't take long.


Step Three:
Add your citric acid mixture and gently stir.  Continue to heat milk until it reaches 88 degrees.  It will begin to thicken and separate and it won't look very yummy. 




 Step Four:
Pour in your rennet mixture and stir gently for thirty seconds.  And then leave undisturbed until milk heats to about 100 to 105 degrees.  The curds will separate from the whey and pull away from the edge of the pot. The whey will be a non-cloudy yellow Mountain-Dew-looking liquid. When this happens, turn off the heat.


Step Five:
Scoop or pour the curds into a fine mesh sieve and drain as much whey as you can.  Reserve the whey in a large bowl or pot.



Step Six:
Return the whey to the pot and heat it over medium high heat to 175 degrees Fahrenheit.  While the whey is heating, shape your curds into 6 balls.


(As an aside, if you like to soak your grains, nourishing traditions style, ladle out a mason jar full of whey before heating it back up and save it in your fridge to use in your soaked oatmeal and other soaked grain yummies.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read this post at Passionate Homemaking about soaking whole grains before cooking.) 

Step Seven:
Put on your rubber gloves. They will protect your hands from the hot cheese in the next step.


Step Eight:
One at a time, put the balls of cheese on a ladle and dip into the hot whey for a few seconds.  Pull the ball out and kneed it a bit in your hands. Dip it again and knead it some more. Work in 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of salt. Dip and knead some more. Keep dipping and kneading until the cheese is smooth and pliable and doesn't break when you stretch it.  My five year old wants me to tell you that it's ready when it stretches like silly putty.


With the first ball you will want to take a little taste and make sure it's salty enough.  And then repeat step Eight with all the other balls until you have six little balls of cheese.


Eat your homemade mozzarella warm and fresh, slice it and use it on sandwiches or grilled pizza, or get out some frilly tooth picks and make fancy little hors d'oeuvres for your fancy little helpers!



Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking! Happy Cheese Making!

23 comments:

  1. I saw how this was made once on a tv show and wanted to make it with my kids, but forgot about it. Thanks for sharing!!! I'll have to try this 'experiment' with them :)

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  2. Mmmmm. My kids and I will have to do this soon. My tomato plants are about to explode with fruit and the basil is waiting for its marriage with the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.

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    1. Yummm, garden fresh tomatoes are such a wonderful treat! Have fun :)

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  3. Your kids are absolutely adorable in these pictures! What fun you guys had!

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  4. Your children are a-dor-a-ble!!!! The cheese sounds good too, but labor intensive...

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    1. It's really not hard, Lori. The whole process takes about an hour. I wouldn't do it all the time, but it's a worthwhile treat. I think it's great when I can involve the kids in making their own snacks :)

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  5. So happy to find another Canadian Blogger!!! Power to you :) I am cheese lover and I think this looks like a fun thing to do with my 3 year old (he does love to help). Thanks for sharing.

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  6. Awesome! We tried this idea recently, at the encouragement of a couple of friends. I was amazed, the kids had a great time, and we had some yummy cheese. Fascinating process & great blog post.

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  7. I feel the exact same way about cheese. Exactly. This looks like lots of fun though!

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    1. haha Jenn, it's nice to know I'm not the only non-cheese-lover out there!

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  8. I love how doable this is with kids.
    I also love seeing the milk in bags, I live in Chicago now but it takes me back to living in Ontario (where I would do a second grocery shop, just to get milk in jugs)

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  9. Wow. You have some very cute children!

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  10. OHHH COOL I want to make this really really bad. That loooks awesome possum I love cheese. I looove salty cheese more.

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  11. Can't wait to make this! Thanks so much. However, I'm Canadian and only remember seeing milk in bags as a kid; I actually thought it as a 1980s thing! I haven't seen it sold in anything but cartons since I was about 5!

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    1. Meg, that's so interesting!! Which province do you live in? Milk in bags is definitely the norm in my area of Ontario. We have milk in cartons (especially at convenience stores) but the grocery stores all sell the 4L milk bags.

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  12. Love following your blog; always inspiring! Just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. Check it out here: http://ipinterest.me/2012/06/16/the-versatile-blogger-award/

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  13. Dear Kelly! I just discovered your blog and found out that you have so many recipes that I want to try! Thank you again and keep your good work!

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  14. I had to find a way to use those "cheese stubs" too... my frugal side felt guilty for tossing them! My sister bought me a litttle gadget (maybe Pampered Chef?) that holds things while you slice; I just stab the cheese stub with that and grate away. My grandmother also suggested saving them in the freezer until you have enough to make a "grown-up" mac-and-cheese with different cheeses! Yummy!

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  15. I'm still stuck on the fact that the milk comes in bags. Also, you win cool mom award!

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  16. I'm from Canada too, milk comes in cartons or plastic jugs where I've lived. I've never ever seen milk in bags like that. So maybe just Ontario is weird not all of us lol :)
    Great post, I didn't know it was so easy to make our own cheese! Thanks!

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  17. I'm from Canada too, milk comes in cartons or plastic jugs where I've lived. I've never ever seen milk in bags like that. So maybe just Ontario is weird not all of us lol :)
    Great post, I didn't know it was so easy to make our own cheese! Thanks!

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  18. Je suis française (près de Paris) et pour moi le fromage est indispensable au repas. Nous avons une grande variétée de fromage, c'est un plaisir et une tradition. Bonne continuation

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  19. I thought this was a great idea and wanted to try it out as one of our Farm Tykes programs at the county park where I am an educator/ranger. We tried it ahead of time, but we are having a hard time getting to the silly putty cinsistencey. What is the secret? Ours continues to be sticky, not stretchy. Still tastes good, though.

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