My son and I were talking a couple of weeks ago about things we love to make at home. Fresh Mozzarella is my son's favorite cheese to eat, but he only likes the homemade kind.
I have tried picking up the fresh mozzarella from the store and he just doesn't like it as well. He asked if it was cheaper to make it or to buy. Since I didn't know it got me thinking.
There are so many things I make from scratch because I think it is cheaper or my family likes better. I thought it would be fun to do a make it or buy it.
I have a mozzarella kit that I received for Christmas a couple of years ago. It has everything you need to make fresh mozzarella cheese, except a gallon of milk. You can make cheese on your own without the cheese kit, but I think that the instructions, ingredients, and tips that they offer in the kit are worth the cost.
To make homemade mozzarella you will need to start with a gallon of milk. Some recipes recommend you have non-pasteurized milk, but I have always used the milk from Aldi. Pour the gallon of milk in a large pot with 1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid and 1 cup distilled water. Then heat it on low heat to 90 degrees, stirring often.
While the milk and citric acid mix are heating up add 1/4 of a rennet tablet (it's included in the cheese making kit) to 1/4 cup distilled water. When the milk mixture reaches 90 degrees turn off the heat and add in the rennet mix. Cover and let it sit for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes curds will have formed. When you press on the white parts you can see the separation of the whey and curds. Use a long knife to gently cut the curds.
Place back on the heat and warm it until temperature reaches 105 degrees. Turn off the heat again and let sit for 5 minutes.
You will now have a lumpy, watery mixture. The watery looking stuff is whey. The white lumps are your curds. Separate the curds and whey. I use a slotted spoon to remove my curds. Put the curds in a microwave safe dish and place in the microwave for one minute. Remove the curds, dump out any extra water and add 1 teaspoon salt.
Place the curds back in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Being very careful (the curds get really hot) remove the cheese from the bowl. It should be shiny and bright and can stretch like taffy.
You will want to knead and stretch the cheese for a few minutes. After a few minutes shape the cheese into a ball and place in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes add in ice cubes and let sit for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes you can remove the mozzarella from the water and it is ready to eat. We like to eat the mozzarella with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and some olive oil. The difference between what we make versus what we buy in the store is night and day. I have found the stores fresh mozzarella to be grainy and sometimes almost plastic tasting. We all prefer the creamy, natural taste of homemade.
So, the question is make it or buy it: fresh mozzarella? I say make it. A kit (makes 30 one pound servings) currently costs $22 on Amazon and I usually buy my milk at Aldi for around $1.69 a gallon. It will cost you approximately $2.42 to make a one pound ball of mozzarella. At Aldi to get 1 pound of fresh mozzarella it will cost $5.44. So you save over 50% by making it yourself.
Of course, it does take about 45 minutes to make the cheese start to finish. I enjoy making the cheese and my son enjoys helping me stretch and shape the cheese. I really don't mind the time that it takes me to make the cheese. I say if you enjoy cooking in the kitchen and trying new things fresh mozzarella is a great thing to make. What about you? What things do you prefer to make vs. buy?