Kosher Blog

Adventures in Cheesemaking: Mozzarella

When Shavuos comes around, a Kosher foodie’s thoughts often focus on cheese. “What cheeses are now available Kosher?” “What cheeses haven’t I tried yet?” “Where can I buy great cheese?” And my favorite “What’s the best cheesecake recipe?” (I have my personal favorite) This year, I decided to try something new – making my own cheese.

We’ve had posts from jabbett about cheesemaking experiments before. My cheese-tastes aren’t as adventurous as his, so I decided to make mozzarella. A no-brainer for a pizza-maniac like myself. To assist in this project I enlisted Kosherblog reader (and fellow Brooklyn-ite) velorutionary. Together with our wives we embarked on a cheese-making extravaganza.

Ingredients:

  • 5 gallons of un-homogenized milk from a local farm. If you order ahead, Ronnybrook Farms can provide 5 gallons of milk in a polybag. Creamline milk is un-homogenized – the cream floats on the top.
  • Citric acid (aka sour salt). Available in the spices section of most groceries.
  • Vegetarian liquid rennet
  • Kosher salt

We followed a combination of instructions:

Here are some pictures of the process:


A 5-gallon polybag of milk, being transferred to a 24 quart pot


The milk is curdling after the addition of citric-acid


Curd formation after the rennet is added


Fishing out curds


Draining the curds


Stretching the cheese….


And stretching it come more!


Finished mozzarella


Ricotta cheese

When we were finished (at about 2am!) we had almost 4 1/2 pounds of mozzarella, and as a bonus – just under 1 pound of ricotta. I believe that with experience, we could get better yields.

Despite my hopes that we would get soft, white, creamy, Italian-style mozzarella, we ended up with cheese very much like regular, American-style, supermarket mozzarella. It was much better than the bagged, pre-shredded, supermarket variety (and it had no preservatives), but the texture was similar. All in all, not a bad outcome. We made our own cheese! I used it on all of my pizzas made on Shavuos, and they were as popular as ever. I invite velorutionary to chime in and tell us what he did with his half of the dairy-bounty.

17 comments

Wonderful!!!

Did you find this to be a cost-effective activity? What was your price-per-pound?

Would you recommend this for a family that uses kosher mozzarella in bulk, or is it more of a novelty activity?

(I really want to try this, but need to justify the purchase of a big milchig soup pot…)

Some people have a problem using that rennet, as it’s repackaged by New England Cheesemaking.

Oh well heck I didn’t even notice this:
“Also, my good friend Elliot called with some great news tonight. Rabbi Love of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah has said that it’s acceptable to purchase kosher liquid rennet from a specialty dairy supply house which simply repackages it into smaller bottles. Huzzah!” — which is from the third cheese experiment post above!

Juggling Frogs:
5 Gallon bag of milk: $19. ($0.95 per quart)
Enough to set 96 gallons of milk: $6.50 (33-cents for 5 gallons)
Citric Acid: I don’t recall. Probably $2-3

That’s maybe $30. Not including equipment that you may or may not have. We got almost five pounds of mozzarella and almost a pound of ricotta, and with practice, yields could be higher. How does that compare with what you pay for bulk cheese?

Of course, you could work with smaller amounts, as a novelty activity, as you say. I also didn’t include the expense of a sushi dinner for 4, befor e we started working. Cheesemaking is a group activity, you know. (If you’re in Brooklyn, NY I’m sure we’ll try this again one day)

I used the ricotta and mozzarella for a pizza blanca on Shavous. I still had plenty mozzarella remaining, so I used it as filler for sandwiches. The product is not what I originally thought we would get, but it is very tasty, and has very slight similarity (not in texture, but in flavor) to fresh mozzarella. I feel that with practice, it can be mastered, and we can end up with the right texture and flavor.

The ricotta was outstanding though, vastly superior to store bought. It was rich and full of flavor.

As to whether the project is worth undertaking…

Commercial cheese is made with the most inexpensive milk available. You can choose to make a better product by using higher quality ingredients.

I can’t say this was noticed in our first try, but I am fairly confident that in subsequent attempts, the end result will be worth the effort.

Furthermore, if you care about the cow’s diet and welfare and choose to buy milk based on those criteria; be it organic, no growth hormones, or pasture fed; you are stuck when buying commercial cheeses. [Same argument can be made if you have particular Kashrus criteria and find it difficult to procure certain types of cheese as a result].

I’m in Boston, but would come to NY just to watch/help!!

The last 10lb block of mozzarella I bought was about $60, purchased from the big supermarket in Monsey, a year ago last pesach. (I recently found a bunch in my freezer from that trip, and defrosted it for use on Shavuot.) I bet the prices have risen, and it would take considerable effort to make something with less taste.

You’ve definitely inspired me to give this a shot! If nothing else, it’s an excuse to buy a big milchig bathtub!

Juggling Frogs,

Most recipes are for one gallon of milk (yields roughly a pound of mozzarella). It does not take very long (under an hour) and shouldn’t require a giant pot.

——————–

On another note…

Sweinberger never mentioned his herculean feat in stretching the mozzarella after the curds were heated (he was stuck with the bulk of this process). Even with soaking the hands in ice water, that stuff is scalding hot (approx 175F).

Regarding your hopes in the last paragraph. Cheap American mozzarella is made from cow’s milk. Traditional Italian mozzarella is made from water buffalo milk.

I wonder whether bison milk would work as well. There are bison farms, so you could inquire about buying some milk from them.

Adam:
That is true, but it still is possible to make fresh mozzarella – the white soft stuff – from cows milk.

Milhouse:
Do you know of any local bison dairies?

No, but there are farms for meat, so I don’t see why if you called them they couldn’t sell you some milk.

Millhouse,

I’m certainly no expert here, but it is very common on meat farms for there to be a huge male/female imbalance since the males are typically used for meat. As a result, there may not be all that many bison available of the milk-providing sex.

Um, where do you think they get bull bison if they haven’t got any cows? Now they probably don’t shecht the cows, but they must have them.

sweinberger, can you email me at the hidden address? friends of mine are interested in pursuing this (they recently tried their hand at wine making).

Hello, Can you please explain to me what exactly it means to be Kosher cheese? Does it mean the rennet is microbial? Please email me at my hidden address. Thanks!

Sarah, I have contacted you at your address with more information.

how much sour salt did you use per gallon of milk?

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