Author Topic: Mozzarella - Perfecting My Method  (Read 1768 times)

Offline jackbox

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Mozzarella - Perfecting My Method
« on: June 24, 2012, 10:56:30 AM »
I tried my first attempt at making cheese tonight. I made Mozzarella using whole fat milk. I did not have citric acid (on order) so I used fresh lemon juice. Here is what I did. I put 2 liters whole milk (supposed to be pasteurized not UP) into pot and added 2T lemon juice and started heating the milk. I thought more acid was needed so I added 1T more of the lemon juice. At 88 degrees I added rennet. I used what is supposedly industrial strength rennet which they recommend you use 4 drops per gallon of milk. I used 4 drops mixed with 1/4 cup water and added it to the milk and continued heating to 105 degrees. Since it was a small quantity of milk it heated pretty quickly and it got close to 110 degrees. I was not satisfied with how fast it was curdling so I added 4 more drops of the rennet mixed with 1/4 cup water. I waited about 20 to 25 minutes and got the resulting curd shown in the photo. I then microwaved for one minute, added salt and started kneading it. I then microwaved another minute and kneaded it again. At this point the cheese looked more like cottage cheese than mozzarella so I heated it for another minute in the microwave. It finally started taking on a more mozzarella feel but I never got the shiny surface and stretch that one would expect from mozzarella. I tried heating it one more time for a minute and that helped a little but the surface still had a less than smooth surface as shown in the photos. So what did I do wrong? Does lemon juice give this type of result? Would using citric acid give it a more shiny appearance and more stretch? Did I use too much rennet? Did I get the milk too hot? Did I not get it hot enough? Did I overheat the curds in the microwave? As i was kneading I was squeezing out residual whey also. I also did not buy any rubber gloves yet so was doing it with my bare hands. The cheese was very hot and hard to hold. I was using the old Italian method of kneading and then putting my hands in cold water to cool, kneading some more, etc. Does the hot water method to heat the curds for stretching work better than the microwave method? I am suspecting the lemon juice, but any tips and advice from people with experience would really be appreciated. Any other ideas or suggestions would be appreciated. Don't get me wrong as I wound up with a ball of cheese on my first attempt that tastes quite nice. It is just not the smooth, shiny ball I expected. When you cut into it, the inside is smooth and when you chew it you get a squeak. It does tastes like mozzarella and is very edible for a first attempt. I would just like some help on getting a nicer appearance next time and more stretch.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2012, 11:11:35 AM by jackbox »

Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Mozzarella - Perfecting My Method
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2012, 02:10:37 PM »
I woud have nuked it a few more times

Offline Alison

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Re: Mozzarella - Perfecting My Method
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2012, 09:29:49 AM »
The curd must be above 55degreesC (131F) when you are spinning/kneading it (burnt hands sounds right!), but if the pH isn't right your can't knead for too long - as the whey drains the curd gets more and more "knobbly". Wish you could try to measure pH - I suspect it is too high. The long time for a clean break also seems to point to high pH, but it is hard to say, as maybe the 110F is contributing to the poor set (90F is more "standard").

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Offline jackbox

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Re: Mozzarella - Perfecting My Method
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2012, 09:36:15 AM »
The curd must be above 55degreesC (131F) when you are spinning/kneading it (burnt hands sounds right!), but if the pH isn't right your can't knead for too long - as the whey drains the curd gets more and more "knobbly". Wish you could try to measure pH - I suspect it is too high. The long time for a clean break also seems to point to high pH, but it is hard to say, as maybe the 110F is contributing to the poor set (90F is more "standard").

Kind
Regards
Alison

Thanks for the great info. That gives me some technique to change next try. I appreciate the assist.

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Mozzarella - Perfecting My Method
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2012, 11:41:04 AM »
You made a few errors which you can easily correct the next time around.
First off, there is no such thing as "industrial strength rennet". Unless you are using Junkett, all normal rennets have specific strengths. 1:15,000 is single rennet. (In Europe it's 1:10,000). 1:30,000 is double strength (In Europe 1:20,000). The dry rennets (tablets or powder) can be 1:60,000 and 1:100,000 which is super strong. the most common type out there is the double strength.

4 drops of double-strength rennet would  not be enough to coagulate 2 liters of milk. You would need about 1/8 of a teaspoon (about 10 drops). If you use a bit more it's okay too, because Mozarella is a milk un-aged cheese and using a couple of more drops of rennet would not effect its flavor.

Secondly, there is a matter of technique. You did two things which you should never do once you add rennet.
  • you continued to heat the milk while waiting for it to coagulate. This is bad because the heat accelerates the milk and causes it to stir, move and mix. This acts against your coagulation.  Also, when the milk begin to coagulate it doesn't mix well anymore so only the part of the milk that is close to your heat source is getting scalded while the rest of the milk is cold. 
  • you added rennet to the milk after already waiting for coagulation. The minute you do that, you have mixed the milk and broke apart any coagulation.  Also, because you have chunks in your milk now, the new rennet will not mix evenly into the material.   When you mix it and break up the curd, whey begins to move from your solids to the water part of the milk. You will not be able to coagulate and gel the milk. If you have a problem, it is better to wait longer than to add more rennet.
Rule of thumb: NEVER, EVER disturb the milk once you put the rennet in.  No heating, no stirring.  Rennet (diluted in water) should be added to the milk, the milk should be stirred well (but gently) for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. At that point you leave the pot until it is time to cut the curd. You don't heat up the pot, you don't add anything to it. You don't mix it, you don't scoop it or touch it. You don't move the pot. You don't touch anything. Rennet coagulation is a very delicate process that should never be disturbed.

The next thing has to do with the milk quality. You didn't say where your milk was from, but if it is an ultra pasteurized and/or homogenized milk, you can expect that it will be too "dead" to coagulate properly and you may experience milk texture issues or very low yield. Sometimes you need to try several brands of milk until you find one that works. While they may all seem similar when you drink them in a glass, put them in your coffee or use them for breakfast cereals, in cheese they all act very differently. Often, merely switching brands can fix your Mozzarella!

The pasteurization and homogenization of commercial milk is a harsh process that strips the milk off much of its calcium.  Calcium is the "glue" which binds solids, (proteins, minerals, fats) and water together. If you are working with supermarket milk (even if it says that Calcium was added to it), chances are that your milk is not strong enough to create a good solid gelled curd.  The best thing to do is add a little bit of calcium chloride (for 2 liters, you need 1/16th of a teaspoon diluted in 1/4 cup of water) just before you add the rennet.  It will make a HUGE DIFFERENCE in the results. Sometimes you will get as much as 50% more cheese out of it and it will improve the texture and acidity control.

So in conclusion:

  • Curdle and coagulate/gel the milk at 88°F. Do not go to 105°F
  • Add 1/16 teaspoon calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup of water (for 2 liters) just before renneting. Mix thoroughly but gently for 45 seconds. Turn off the heat
  • Add 1/8 teaspoon rennet, diluted in 1/4 cup of water (for 2 liters). Mix thoroughly but gently for 45 seconds
  • Leave the milk alone. Do not touch the pot.
This should also get your curd to the right acidity level so when you knead it, it will stretch beautifully and make a shiny, smooth Mozzarella. This should also result in a slightly larger cheese.

Offline jackbox

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Re: Mozzarella - Perfecting My Method
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2012, 08:34:02 PM »
@iratherfly

Thank you for your very informative and thoughtful response to my questions. I now have a better path to take on my next batch. The recipe I used said to heat to 105 degrees after adding the rennet. I will not do that again (time to find a new recipe). I believe the milk I bought is good quality milk. The producer states on their website they they only pasteurize their milk and never ultra pasteurize to protect the nutrients in the milk. It is a small, high end producer with a limited distribution. I will experiment around with other brands also and see which gives me the best results. I have calcium chloride on order but I have not received it yet. I did receive my citric acid so the next batch will be made with citric acid and not lemon juice. I will make sure once I add rennet to leave the pot alone and not disturb the milk and I will use the amount of rennet you suggested. Even without calcium chloride I believe I got a good yield. The amount of cheese I got out of 2 liters looked like as much as some people on youtube videos got from an entire gallon. The taste and texture inside the cheese were good, it was just the outside that looked bumpy and dull. I made a Caprese salad with it and if I got it in a restaurant I would have been happy with it.

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Mozzarella - Perfecting My Method
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2012, 12:56:02 AM »
You are welcome! There are tons of great recipes out there and I am sure anyone here would love to help you out and share. Where did you get it from?  I have never seen a recipe that says to rennet and heat while waiting for coagulation. Are you sure it didn't say to rennet, coagulate, then cut the curd and then heat to 105?  That makes much more sense to me because this is a classic way to make the curd firmer and slowly drain moisture out of it so it sticks together nicely and also stretches better.   Perhaps that's what the recipe meant and maybe someone copied it wrongly?

In the future, if you want to do the real thing, I would suggest to use culture or buttermilk and wait a long time instead of using citric acid (but maybe at a later stage, when you are comfortable with the rest of the process).

Sounds like you have a good supply of milk. Is it homogenized?

As for the texture: to make a proper Mozzarella, there is no choice but to knead and stretch the curd until it is no longer bumpy. It is shiny and smooth and then you make it into a ball, a braid, a string or bocconcini balls. The first time you get the texture right, you will see the difference (both outside and inside). The cheese will be springy and if you pull it after it has cooled down, it will teat in layers. Every piece that you slice will be shiny and springy. It takes some practice to get right so don't despair. I suggest to buy a really good Mozzarella from Italy and do a "forensic examination" of its shape, texture, color, springiness, mushiness, how it looks when it tears and how low will it melt. This will give you a lot of parameters to improve yours and rich that world-class quality.  In the meantime, enjoy your experiments and all the cheese that takes you there. Seems like you are having enjoyable eats out of it already!!!

Offline jackbox

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Re: Mozzarella - Perfecting My Method
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2012, 01:21:44 AM »
You are welcome! There are tons of great recipes out there and I am sure anyone here would love to help you out and share. Where did you get it from?  I have never seen a recipe that says to rennet and heat while waiting for coagulation. Are you sure it didn't say to rennet, coagulate, then cut the curd and then heat to 105?  That makes much more sense to me because this is a classic way to make the curd firmer and slowly drain moisture out of it so it sticks together nicely and also stretches better.   Perhaps that's what the recipe meant and maybe someone copied it wrongly?


Here is a link to the recipe. It says to continue heating the milk after adding the rennet. I used this recipe because I was looking for one that used lemon juice in place of citric acid since my citric acid did not come yet and I was getting anxious to make some cheese.

http://howlingduckranch.wordpress.com/2009/05/09/fresh-mozzarella-cheese/

In the future, if you want to do the real thing, I would suggest to use culture or buttermilk and wait a long time instead of using citric acid (but maybe at a later stage, when you are comfortable with the rest of the process).

Sounds like you have a good supply of milk. Is it homogenized?


Yes it is homogenized. The milk comes from a 3,000 head dairy ranch/resort. The milk is a by-product of the resort operation and they only have about twenty outlets they sell it in. They have their own stores/kiosks in select locations around Thailand.

As for the texture: to make a proper Mozzarella, there is no choice but to knead and stretch the curd until it is no longer bumpy. It is shiny and smooth and then you make it into a ball, a braid, a string or bocconcini balls. The first time you get the texture right, you will see the difference (both outside and inside). The cheese will be springy and if you pull it after it has cooled down, it will teat in layers. Every piece that you slice will be shiny and springy. It takes some practice to get right so don't despair. I suggest to buy a really good Mozzarella from Italy and do a "forensic examination" of its shape, texture, color, springiness, mushiness, how it looks when it tears and how low will it melt. This will give you a lot of parameters to improve yours and rich that world-class quality.  In the meantime, enjoy your experiments and all the cheese that takes you there. Seems like you are having enjoyable eats out of it already!!!


I ate it all. Have to make more!  ;D