Sonoma Dish: Homemade mozzarella? It’s not such a stretch...

This is downright dangerous. Knowing how to make fresh mozzarella in less than 30 minutes is a dangerous thing. Knowing at any moment you could whip up your own ball of luxurious mozzarella? Yep, I said it. Dangerous.

Finding some extra time on my hands during the pandemic sheltering in place order, I resurrected my bookshelved baking skills and turned out freshly made French baguettes on the daily. (Sourcing the key ingredients of flour and yeast was nearly as difficult as trying to find hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes. Let’s just say I have my ways.) A warm slice or two topped with copious amounts of homemade raspberry jam made this treat divine. Then came the homemade granola jag followed by a frenzy of fresh strawberry pies. Enough of the sweets, I turned to the savory and fresh mozzarella was made.

Homemade mozzarella may sound intimidating but therein lies the magic. It’s deceptively easy. Just be sure to follow these tips for success.

Before you begin, read the recipe all the way through so you get an idea of the steps you’ll take and gather together all of your equipment. You’ll need a large non-reactive stockpot, measuring cups and spoons, a thermometer, a slotted spoon and a microwaveable bowl.

Regarding the ingredients, any milk will do; however, whole milk will produce the richest taste. Just be sure it is not ultra high temperature (UHT) pasteurized, as this milk will not curdle. The liquid rennet and citric acid can be sourced at specialty markets or simply ordered on Amazon.

Finally, take care not to overwork the curds when stretching. Stop kneading right when the curds become firm and develop a glossy sheen.

Too easy, right? It’s my new addiction, especially now that our homegrown heirloom tomatoes are almost ripe for the picking. Now that’s a match made in heaven!

30 Minute Mozzarella

Yield: 1 pound

¼ teaspoon liquid rennet

1 ½ teaspoon citric acid

1 gallon whole milk

1 teaspoon salt

1. Mix the liquid rennet with a ¼ cup cool water and set aside.

2. Mix the citric acid with 1 cup cool water and pour into a large stockpot. Pour in the milk and stir. Slowly heat the milk to 90 degrees. The milk will begin to curdle. If the milk is not forming a proper curd, increase the heat to 95 degrees.

3. At 90 degrees, remove the pot from the heat and slowly add the rennet. Stir in a top to bottom motion for 30 seconds and then stop. Cover the pot and leave undisturbed for 5 minutes.

4. Check the curd after 5 minutes to determine a clear separation between the curds and whey. If the whey is milky, let it set 10 minutes longer.

5. Place the pot back on the stove and heat to 105 degrees while slowly stirring the curds with a large spoon. Take the pot off the burner and continue stirring slowly for 2 minutes.

6. With a slotted spoon, scoop the curds into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. Drain off any whey. Microwave two more times for 35 seconds each draining off any whey.

7. Remove the curds from the bowl and sprinkle the salt over. Using both hands, stretch and fold the curds repeatedly until smooth and shiny. Shape into a ball. Place the ball in an ice bath to cool. Store in a salt-water brine in the refrigerator until ready to eat. Enjoy!

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