Q. I am fairly new at cheesemaking and made first 30-minute mozzarella a week ago and thoroughly enjoyed it!
I followed your recipe but we didn't eat the cheese right away (my husband was going to use it to make dinner the next day). So I cooled the ball in ice water for 1/2 hour and then put it in an airtight container. To my surprise the next day, the ball had melted and taken the form of the container! I could still cut it but it continued to reform. I had stirred it longer to make a firmer cheese, etc because I thought we would be able to shred it. What did I do wrong???
A. This is because the cheese still contains an excess of moisture and will actually flow over time into the shape of the container that holds it. To make a firmer cheese try cutting the curds smaller initially and stir longer and/or at a higher temp. This should yield the drier cheese you would like.
Q. I have made fresh mozzarella several times since ordering my supplies. The cheese always comes out shiny and delicious with a slightly elastic texture but after 2 days becomes a little mushy and develops a unpleasant after taste. Can you tell me what i am doing wrong?
A. When you have a moist mozzarella the lactose will continue to ferment. Mozz is traditionally a fresh cheese eaten within a day or so. If you hold it longer it will not hold its shape and become sour or off tasting.
If you want more structure and longer hold time then cut the curd smaller and stir longer with a bit more heat before the stretch phase. This will yield a drier cheese with less lactose.
Beginning Ingredients Rennet Curd Formation
Stretching Storing Mozzrella & Using Whey
Storing Mozzarella & Using Whey
You may find that your recipe for 30 Minute Mozzarella is slightly
different from the one on our website. The reason for this is that milk
is being pasteurized at higher and higher temperatures now.(See Milk.)
Keeping up with these changes has been a challenge and it has required
us to modify our recipes. We do frequent printings of our written
material, but the latest directions are always on our website. Note:This section of the FYI is about the 30 Minute Mozzarella recipe only.
1. Does anything in the kit need to be refrigerated?
When you order our 30 Minute Mozzarella Kit,
you do not have to open it or refrigerate it for up to a year .The only
ingredient that has a shelf life is the rennet tablets. They will keep
for a year at room temperature. If you put them in the freezer, they
will last at least 5 years.
2. Are the ingredients in the kit safe for children?
All of the ingredients in the kit are safe for children and women who
are pregnant. (Obstetricians are sometimes concerned with surface molds
and short aging times for cheeses, however, none of that is involved
here.)Note:For those who are allergic to cow's milk, this kit contains no dry milk powder.
3. Can I use any kind of milk with this recipe?
You may use raw milk, pasteurized/homogenized milk (whole, 2%, 1%
& skim), goat's & sheep's milk, powdered dry milk with cream,
and even water buffalo's milk. Please read the Milk section for more information about choosing your milk.
4. Do I need to have a microwave or any other special equipment?
There are directions for making this Mozzarella without a microwave. If
you don't have a stainless steel pot, you may use Teflon, enamel or
anodized aluminum. (We do not recommend using regular aluminum because
the acids from the whey etch into the metal. With further use, bacteria
gets into the holes, and the pot is no longer sanitary.)
5. Can I cut the recipe in half or double it?
Yes.You can cut everything in half, but it is difficult to measure
1/8th rennet tablet (or even 1/8th teaspoon if you are using liquid
rennet). To measure 1/8th tablet, dissolve 1/4 tablet in ½ cup non-chlorinated water and then throw out half of the solution.
you choose to double the recipe, double everything (including the
amount of water used to dissolve the rennet and citric acid). When it
comes to heating and stretching the curd, separate it into two sections
to make it easier to work with.
6. Will I need to adjust the recipe for high altitudes?
No, because there is nothing to boil in the recipe.
7. Can I add lipase to my Mozzarella for a stronger flavored cheese?
Yes. If you wish, add 1/4 teaspoon Italase (more or less) to your milk after you have thoroughly stirred in the citric acid. Increase your rennet to ½ tablet.
8. Do you recommend using calcium chloride with this recipe?
No. Normally, calcium chloride
is added to all processed or cold stored milk for a firmer curd.
However, Mozzarella is the exception. During the stretch, we are
releasing calcium, therefore, adding it is counter-productive.
We know that many sites include calcium chloride in their Mozzarella
recipe, but they may not fully understand the basis of the Mozzarella
process.You will get a better stretch and final texture without it.
9. How do I know if my water is chlorinated?
You can usually call your town water department to find out.If you
are unsure, you may use distilled water. Most filters remove 97% of the
chlorine, which is fine for cheese making. The problem with chlorine is
that it interferes with the rennet.
10. Is yeast (from baking in the area) a problem with this recipe?
No, because there is no bacterial culture involved.
11. I am lactose intolerant.Can I make this cheese?
Sadly, we have yet to find a brand of lactose-free milk that is not
ultra-pasteurized. If you have found one, please let us know and we will
add it to our list of good milks. With lactose-free milk that is not ultra-pasteurized, you will be able to make our 30 Minute Mozzarella and Ricotta.
If you do make this cheese with regular milk, it will have more
lactose in it than the cultured cheeses like Cheddar or Parmesan. The
amount will be comparable to the amount of lactose in soft cheeses.
12. Can I smoke this Mozzarella?
Yes. For a simple version, some folks add liquid smoke to the milk
when making 30 Minute Mozzarella. Add 1 or 2 teaspoons per gallon right
after adding the citric acid.
If you wish to smoke it the real way, always do a cold smoke. The
smoke is usually generated in a separate chamber and then cooled before
entering a box with the cheese in it. The temperature must be kept below
84F or the butterfat melts and runs out.
We recommend using whole cow's milk the first time you make
Mozzarella. It isn't necessary, but it will be the easiest way for you
to start. If you are buying your milk at the store, look for the most
local brand. Be sure it is not labeled UP (ultra-pasteurized). Be
especially careful of organic milks, most of the name brands are
1. Do I use the same recipe with any kind of milk?
Yes, although there are a few exceptions:
Raw milk or milk from a cow, goat or sheep in late lactation – Start with 2 teaspoons of citric acid (instead of 1 1/2).
Powdered Dry Milk & Cream - Start with 2 teaspoons of citric acid (instead of 1 1/2).
Water Buffalo's Milk
– Start with 3 1/2 teaspoons of citric acid and 1/8 teaspoon of liquid
rennet (or 1/8 tablet). We have not tried this, because we don't have
access to this milk. We are following the advice of one of our customers
who has used it.
If you are adding cream to whole milk in an effort to duplicate water
buffalo's milk, we recommend using at least 2 teaspoons of citric acid.
When using one gallon of milk, we do not recommend replacing more than 8
oz. whole milk with 8 oz. light cream.
2. After I pasteurize my milk, can I cool it to 90F and proceed?
Yes. When you begin to make Mozzarella, your milk should be 90F. It
doesn't matter whether you get it to that temperature by heating it
slowly or quickly. (Watch for caramelizing or burning milk solids when
heating quickly.) If you have just pasteurized your milk, you do not
have to cool it all the way down and reheat; just get it down to 90F and
3. In your book, you refer to "Mozzarella with Farm Fresh Cow's
Milk". Does that mean I should use that recipe (and not this one) if I
have raw milk?
No.The recipe in our book is simply the more traditional way to make
Mozzarella. It requires a starter culture and it takes longer to make.
Our 30 Minute Mozzarella can be made with virtually any kind of milk.
(sometimes referred to as 'sour salt') exists in a variety of fruits
and vegetables. It is used as a flavoring and preservative in many
juices, soft drinks and seltzers. It is recognized as safe for use by
all national and international food regulatory agencies.
1. Where does your citric acid come from?
Ours is made in the US from corn which is non-GMO and gluten-free. It
contains no glutamate or glutamic acid and no hydrolyzed protein.
Glucose syrup from maize is a fermentation raw material, but it is not
contained in the end product. We are working on obtaining citric acid
that is not corn based, because we know it is better for the
Unfortunately, we do not know of a source for Kosher citric acid.
2. Can I substitute lemon juice, or ascorbic acid, for the citric acid?
No.There is no reliable way to determine how much of these things you
will need. Citric acid is standardized and has the best taste. If you
want to see for yourself and experiment with any of these substitutions,
keep in mind that your target range is 5.4 – 5.6 pH.
3. How do I add citric acid to my milk?
The key to adding citric acid to your milk is to do it slowly while
stirring briskly. This helps to ensure even distribution. Some folks
prefer to add their citric acid solution to the pot first and then dump
their milk in on top of it before stirring.
If your milk starts curdling right after you add the citric acid, it
may mean that the citric acid was not distributed quickly enough through
the milk .Note:Do not mix your citric acid into a small amount of
milk and then add that to the rest, because it will result in uneven
4. I accidentally heated the milk beyond 90F after I added the citric acid. Can I cool it down to 90F and proceed?
Yes, you can. It's primarily the rennet that is effected by the heat.
Our vegetable rennet tablets are
made with microbial enzymes which contain no animal products. They have
no wheat starch or other gluten products. The enzyme is chymosin, the
same one in calf rennet. It comes from a mold – mucur miehei. Although
the enzyme comes from a mold, there is no mold in the vegetable rennet
1. What is the shelf life of the rennet tablets?
They keep well at room temperature for up to one year - 5 years if
kept frozen. There is no need to worry if we are shipping your kit
halfway across the world to a sub-tropical climate – the rennet tablets
will survive the trip and live for years in your freezer.
2. Can I use liquid rennet instead of the tablets?
can always use liquid rennet instead of the tablets. There will be no
difference in the taste of the final cheese. (1/4 tablet rennet = 1/4
teaspoon liquid rennet.) Note: Our liquid vegetable rennet is double strength, so, you would use 1/8 teaspoon instead of 1/4 tablet.
3. Can I substitute junket for the rennet tablets?
No. Junket is great for making custard, but it is nowhere near as
strong as our rennet tablets. Cheese rennet is 80% chymosin and 20%
pepsin. Junket is approximately 80% pepsin, so it is much weaker than
cheese rennet. It also contains many additives.
4. How slowly do I add the rennet?
When you add diluted rennet to your milk, add it while stirring very
slowly. Ideally, you will stir it with an up-and-down motion. Do this
for no more than 30 seconds –just enough time to get it evenly
distributed. At this point, put the top on your pot and do not move it.
Note: If you are using raw milk, top-stir the milk for a few extra
seconds to make sure the milk doesn't separate before the rennet has
been evenly distributed.
5. Is there a trick to breaking the rennet tablets apart?
Some find it easier to use a knife to cut them. Simply lay the knife
on a score mark, and give it a quick tap. Others prefer to use a pill
cutter (shown at right). There is enough margin of error in this process
to accommodate small differences in the amount of rennet you break off.
Don't worry if you can't break the tablet into four perfectly equal
6. How do I test my rennet to see if it has expired?
This is how we test our rennet:
Heat one cup of milk to 90F.
(Do not add citric acid.) Dissolve ¼ rennet tablet (or ¼ tsp. liquid
rennet) in 8 oz of cool water and stir well. From this diluted rennet,
take 2 tablespoons and add it to the milk at 90F. Stir gently from the
bottom to the top for 30 seconds.
If the rennet is working, the milk surface will begin to firm or form
a slight film after two minutes. After six minutes, it will have formed
a curd that will hold a knife cut.
7. My rennet tablet won't dissolve completely.
That's OK. There is usually a slight amount of residue left in the solution.
8. How long is the rennet good after I have dissolved it in the water?
It is only good for approximately 1/2 hour. After 1/2 hour you need to add the rennet to your milk or toss it. DO NOT SAVE RENNET SOLUTIONS FOR LATER USE.
1. What is the best way to add the salt?
We recommend sprinkling it onto the cheese during the final stretch.
This can be awkward, but if you have it all measured and ready to go,
you can mix it into the cheese with little effort. The same applies to
any herbs you might wish to add.
2. I am out of cheese salt. Is there anything else that I can use in it's place?
Yes, you may use NON-IODIZED sea salt, kosher salt or a salt substitute. If you do not want to add salt at all, you may also add herbs and/or chopped vegetables. The possibilities are endless!!
1. What are some tips for getting the right curds for 30 Minute Mozzarella?
Once you have added rennet to your milk, let it set, undisturbed, for
5 minutes. Check it to see if it makes a 'clean break' when you stick
your finger into it .If it has not set, put the top back on your pot and
wait another 5 or 10 minutes.
At this point, your milk should look like thick custard. When lifted
with a spoon, it will hold its shape somewhat but will break quite
easily, like a very soft pudding.
if the milk is marginal, it looks like cottage cheese floating in the
pot. If so, heat it to 110F, take it off the burner, cover it and let it
set for 5 minutes. Note:Your thermometer is in the whey, so you are actually measuring the temperature of the whey.
If you can drain your curds (without cheesecloth) there is a good
chance you will get Mozzarella, no matter how "different" your curds
look. Proceed to the microwave or water bath step.
If it doesn't form any kind of curd, let it set for another 10
minutes. If there is still no curd, feed it to your pets or add herbs
and salt and use it as a cheese spread. Try using different milk next
This is the heartbreak of milk that has been overheated during
pasteurization. It may not be ultra-pasteurized, but it has been heated
to just short of UP temperatures. This has rendered it useless for
If your curd seems to be perfect (soft and custard-like), cut it and
put the pot back on the stove. Heat it to 105F, (110F if you will be
using the water bath method) stirring only enough to keep the pieces of
curd from sticking to the pot. As you are stirring the curds and heating
them up, they will lose more whey and become much firmer.
Note: This step may not be in your recipe. We recently added this
step to the recipe because too many people were having problems with
store bought milk. Milk is being pasteurized at higher temperatures all
the time so we are being forced to adapt to these conditions. If you are
using raw or very fresh milk, you may not have to use this step.
2. My curds are tiny little specks that won't hold together. They look just like the ones in the ultra-pasteurized pictures on your website, but my milk is not UP.
If you can, strain them, add herbs and use as a spread. As you know,
ultra-pasteurized milk has been heated so high during pasteurization
that the structure of the milk proteins has been damaged.
What you may not know is that many other milk processors are heating
their milk well beyond the normal temps (into the 170's and 180'sF),
just short of ultra-pasteurization. This, along with long travel times
and cold storage, is causing many problems in our milk supply.
Sometimes your curds look fine, but they dissolve later in the
process, when heating or stretching. This is also a result of overheated
If you think your milk has been overheated, purchase fresh local milk. We are keeping a list of good milks which is composed of brands that our customers from all over the world have recommended.
3. After I add the rennet, my milk turns into a big glob of curd at the bottom of the pot.
is caused by milk that is overly acidic. Proceed directly to the
microwave or water bath stage. Next time, try heating the milk to only
86-88F before adding the rennet. This will form a curd that will retain
The point where the curds begin to stick and get stringy is an
indication that the curds are almost ready to stretch. Your final
moisture will be determined by the cycle times in the microwave and how
long you stretch the cheese.
4. My curds are lumpy and there is milk underneath.
This may be a problem with localized coagulation. The citric acid is
not distributed quickly enough through the milk and some regions of the
milk become overly acidic and coagulate immediately.
If this is the case, dilute the citric acid in more water (one cup)
on your next attempt. .Also, you might try adding your citric acid
solution to the pot and then pouring your milk over it and stirring it
well. With problematic milks, we usually add 1.5 teaspoons citric acid
to 1 cup of cool water. Then, we add the acid solution just a bit at a
time while quickly stirring it into the milk.
5. I am using good, local milk, but my curds are still too weak.
You may be stirring your milk too long after adding the rennet. With
today's milk, stirring 30 seconds after adding the rennet will be plenty
(a few more seconds of top-stirring if you are using raw milk). Make
sure to take your pot off the burner and let it sit quietly while the
curd forms. If you do this, a nice firm curd will form. If you continue
stirring after this point, you are actually cutting the curd as you
stir, resulting in a weak curd.
Next time, try this: Add rennet at 100F instead of 97F. Wait for
about 10 minutes (off the burner) then cut the curd surface into 1/2-1"
squares, give the pan a twist to separate the curds, and let this set
for another 5-8 minutes. Now, put the pot back on medium heat and begin
cutting the large pieces of curd crosswise with a spoon and stirring a
bit from the bottom as you raise the heat to 105-107F.
the temperature and continue stirring gently from the bottom up, trying
not to break the curds too small. The curds should become firm enough
to ladle into a bowl after 5-8 minutes of this. If they break up at this
point you should find another milk source. If the curds are firm, carry
on with the rest of the draining and microwave steps. This process may
take longer than 30 minutes, but that is because we are working with
excessive pasteurization temperatures.
6. What does it mean if my whey is milky?
It is normal for the whey to be somewhat milky, especially with high
butterfat milk. However, there may have been some loss of butterfat due
to incomplete (soft) curd set or excessive curd handling. The next time
you make it, be sure you get a firmer curd by setting the milk at a
temperature 3-5 degrees higher. Then, stir a few minutes longer when you
have heated it to 105F.
7. I am using the same milk I used before, but now my curds are too soft.
Sometimes the age of the milk is a factor. You always want it to be
as fresh as possible. Try adding a little more rennet (1/2 tablet) next
time. There is also a possibility that your dairy has switched to higher
8. When I have my curds drained and ready to heat and stretch, can I refrigerate them and stretch them later?
Yes. You may also freeze them until you are ready to stretch them.
Wrap them well with no air. When you are ready to proceed with
stretching, thaw them in the refrigerator.
Here's an interesting tip from one of our customers who uses goat's milk:
“I've been making Ricki's Mozzarella for years now and this year I
made a mistake that really ended up working out beautifully for me. I
made the Mozzarella in the normal way, right up to adding the rennet and
waiting for the curd to set. Well, I was called outside and couldn't
come back in for almost 2 hours. The curd had knitted on the bottom of
the pan but was still very soft, almost like there was not enough rennet
to give me a clean break. So I thought I'd just try to finish it and I
turned the lump of curd to break it twice and left it alone for a few
minutes. Then, I drained the curd for 10-15 minutes and put the curd in
the fridge as I had to go outside again. The next day, I spun it and it
So now I bypass the cutting of the curd and after I add the rennet I
just leave it alone and let it do its thing(off the heat) in the pot for
2-3 hours, drain it, put it in refrigerator until the next day and
The temperature of the curds is very important in the stretching
phase. The heat needs to penetrate the cheese to raise the internal
temperature of the curds to 135F before the stretch can happen .(If it
the curds get much hotter, they will melt and come apart). If your water
bath or microwave is too hot, (over 175F) your ball of curds may
Note:Some recipe booklets say to hold the curds in the water bath for 3-8 minutes. That was a typo. It should read 3-8 seconds.
1. I don't know how to handle the cheese while stretching it.
Many folks try to knead their cheese like bread during the stretching
phase. That will result in too much moisture loss which can cause your
cheese may become tough and chewy. Let it fall on itself a few times
until it all seems smooth and shiny. Shape it into a ball and put it in
your container. Or, if you want to make Bocconcini: while stretching,
break off into little pieces and plunge them into ice water.When cool,
wrap in plastic and refrigerate or eat!
add your salt and/or herbs during the final stretch. If you add them
earlier, they may prevent you from getting an even stretch. If you are
adding vegetables, such as tomatoes, cut them into tiny pieces and dry
them a bit before adding them to your cheese.
2. I microwaved too long and my curds crumbled.
If your microwave is too strong, or you heat them too long, your
curds will fall apart. Cut down a bit on the times .Start with 30
seconds, then, do it again. That might be enough.
3. As soon as I began microwaving my curds, they dissolved into what looks like Ricotta. Can I use them as Ricotta?
This happens when the curds are not strong enough .If you followed
the directions, including cutting the curds and reheating to 105F, the
problem is probably the milk. (See Milk) If you are sure the milk has not been overheated and is not too old, try using ½ tablet rennet next time.
You can use these curds as Ricotta, but they are heavier than the
real cheese.When you make Ricotta, you will find that it is much
fluffier than your failed batch of Mozzarella curds.
4. By the time I was done, I had a very low yield.
If you are using milk with less butterfat in it, your yield will be
less. Or, if your curds were not firm enough, you may have lost too much
butterfat to the whey.
Another thing to be aware of is the amount of cream in your whey. Let
the curds set until the whey is clear, both before and after cutting
the curds. If the curds need more time to form at any point, give them 5
or 10 more minutes.
5. When finished, my cheese is too dry and rubbery. I want a softer Mozzarella.
There are many steps you can take to achieve a softer cheese. You may
have stretched your curds too much. Simply let the cheese fall on its
self a few times and put it in your container. It loses a lot of
moisture during the stretching process.
If it is still too dry, next time, add the rennet at a temperature
2-5 degrees lower or do less cutting and stirring before the stretching
6. My cheese is too soft. I want to grate it for pizza.
are many steps you can take: Increase the rennet to ½ tablet. Raise the
temperatures a few degrees. Cut the curds smaller. Stir them longer
after reheating. Stretch them more.
Any or all of these steps will result in a drier cheese. Or, you can partially freeze your soft Mozzarella and then grate it.
7. My Mozzarella doesn't melt.
You should be able to make a good melting Mozzarella using this
recipe.Try keeping more moisture in the cheese by kneading and
stretching less. You may even lower the temperature 2-3 degrees when you
add the rennet and when you reheat the curds after cutting.
Storing Mozzarella & Using Whey
1. What is the best way to store my Mozzarella?
The best way to store your Mozzarella is to put it in a plastic
container, cover it, and submerge it in cold water for 20 minutes or so.
Then, place the container in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours. Take out
the cheese, wrap it in Saran Wrap or some other breathable kitchen wrap
and store it in the refrigerator .It will keep like this for 7-10 days
with no loss of flavor. You may freeze it, if you wish. (We prefer to
grate it first).
You may also freeze the whey, if you like. Milk is almost 90% water
and you will get almost seven pints of whey from a gallon of milk.
2. Why can't I store my Mozzarella in water like they do at the store?
With this kind of Mozzarella, there is too much calcium loss when the cheese is submerged in brine. It becomes slimy.
you would like to store your Mozzarella in brine, consider using the
traditional recipe, "Mozzarella with Farm-Fresh Cow's Milk", found in
our book,"Home Cheese Making".
3. My Mozzarella turned translucent after a few days in the refrigerator.
Using skim, 1%, or 2% milk causes the cheese to be translucent. The white color is butterfat.
4. What's in the whey and what can I do with it?
Whey contains lactose, protein, vitamins, and minerals along with traces of fat.
Because it digests very rapidly, the amino acids enter the blood stream
faster than other protein sources. For this reason, athletes often
consume commercial whey protein shakes after workouts to help them gain
people like to soak their grains and beans in whey. Others make it into
lemonade by filtering it and adding sweetener. It may also be used as
soup stock or to replace liquids in recipes. Acid loving plants such as
tomatoes thrive on whey. At the very least, you can compost it.
It will keep up to a week in the refrigerator and it may be frozen.
5. Can I make Ricotta from this whey?
No. This whey is the product of a different acidification process
than is used in other cheeses. The process of quick acidification
results in changes to the chemistry of the whey. To make Ricotta, use
the whey left over from making a cultured cheese like Cheddar or the
'Mozzarella with Farm-Fresh Cow's Milk' recipe in our book Home Cheese Making.