Cheesepalooza: Mozzarella

Here we are already at the 4th month of Cheesepalooza. This month we had to make mozzarella. Well the experience almost broke me. I’ll tell you more about it later but I required 4 attempts before I had success. I almost lost my desire to make cheese. Let me reassure you though I believe this was an isolated incident because I already made next month’s cheese and it is drying nicely on the counter. Come back in a month to find out what it is.

In the beginning I used the classic 30 minute mozzarella that one will find all over the Internet. Some find it easy but many people claim their mozzarella attempts failures. It is not the easiest cheese to make at all. 1st try I got tough ricotta like cheese. 2nd try I got nice ricotta so that was not a waste. 3rd try there was not solidification at all. No protein and no fat solid materialized…puff…gone???

I was at my wit’s end. I was freaking out, discouraged, upset, mad, and I used a lot of 4 letter words. I was almost too angry to give up. I had given up the night before. Then I came across this blog post where the author had an identical mozzarella crisis as mine and she found a recipe that worked! From a Korean website! I had to try and I also like the fact that it was half a batch. It worked! OK the milk almost curdled and I did not get a nice white gelatinous surface, but with the microwave heating it did melt and turn into mozzarella texture. I was so freaking excited. I was so happy I forgot to add the salt. So it was hardly the best mozzarella but I did it.



Recipe Type: Cheese and Dairy
Cuisine: Italian
  • 1/8 teaspoon or tablet of rennet
  • 1/2 teaspoon milk A at room temperature
  • 900ml milk B
  • 1/8 teaspoon citric Acid
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. Dissolve the rennet in milk A. Wait 30 minutes.
  2. Pour milk B into a pot, and heat to 90°F.
  3. Dissolve the acid in 1/4 cup water. When the milk is at 90°F pour in the citric acid. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the rennet and milk A solution into milk B. Stir for two minutes.
  5. Put the lid on and let it set for 30 minutes. You’re trying to achieve a “clean break” which is when the milk sets. Wait longer if need be (some people wait 3 hours).
  6. Line a colander with a cheesecloth. Pour the curds and whey into the cheesecloth and let it drain.
  7. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth and massage the bag to drain the whey until it resembles a solid mass of curds.
  8. Microwave for 1 minute. Drain the whey
  9. Microwave in 20-30 second increments 2-3 times until the cheese is no longer releasing whey. You want to get a reading of 135°F.
  10. It’s time to knead the cheese a bit until you get the stretch texture of mozzarella. I recommend using gloves as it gets really hot. Add salt and knead a bit.
  11. Shape and drop it into some cold water to “set” it.


So what did I learn and where may I have gone wrong?

Was it the milk? As far as I know we do not have ultra-pasteurized milk in Quebec. It is not indicated on the containers. I searched the websites of the local milks and the best information I got was that milk was pasteurized the standard way but still at a higher temperature. And I am in the city without a farmer connection. I tried 3 different milk companies. I don’t know if that was one of the issues. I did however come across this article that explains how to prepare milk ideal for cheese making from cream and milk powder. I did not use it for this cheese however but for next month’ s cheese. Here is the link but I will discuss it more in detail next month.

Was it the water? OK I admit the 2 first tries I forgot to use bottle water. City tap water with chlorine is a no no.

Was it the Citric acid? I think this was my main problem for 2 reasons. First I think the milk was over acidified with the quantity required in the recipe. That is why it curdled so fast but I have no acid measuring device. Second I read after 2 tries that I probably did not mix in the citric acid the right way. You have to pour the dissolved citric acid slowly while stirring vigorously. I really noticed the difference.

Special ingredients this month: Citric Acid and Rennet

I am glad in the end I stuck with it. My friends and colleagues definitely called me persistent. I won’t be making it again any time soon though. With my mozzarella finally in hand I made these lovely little Mozzarella Tomato and Black Olive Tarts. What a hit these were! Have you almost given up on a recipe after several attempts? Did you finally succeed?

If you want to learn more about cheese making check out my past posts on

Cheesepalooza: Feta Cheese

Already another cheese. I am on a roll! When I joined Cheesepalooza I was cutting it close to the new monthly deadline plus I wanted to make the challenge on the prior month…so you are getting 2 cheeses in one week. Have you ever wanted to make cheese but are not sure where to begin? This group is for you.

My first cheese was a basic goat cheese. That was a relatively simple process. Now for Feta, in theory it is still simple but you have to follow the recipe to the letter. Feta involves heating, curdling, draining, drying and ripening in brine. This challenge pushed me a little bit farther and gave me confidence for the next cheese. Check out the goat cheese round-up here.

I have to say making my Feta was very rewarding. Now it will not be completely ready as I just put it in brine and it must stay there 1 to 4 weeks, but I had a piece already to top off a corn tortilla with a tomato and onions. It was soft, flavorful and just delicious.

To make your Feta you will have to get a few special cheese making supplies. Don’t worry it is a small investment only, but you will need to buy some lipase powder, calcium chloride and rennet. Lipase is a flavor agent for Italian and Greek cheeses. Calcium Chloride restores the calcium balance in the milk that was modified during pasteurization. Finally Rennet is a coagulant that firms up your milk protein. The 3 supplies were about 20$ and I have enough to make pounds and pounds more cheese.

I found my recipe online. For some reason just one recipe was not clear enough so I read many and settled on 2 that I combined: I used this recipe and this recipe. On my first try I failed: my cheese curd separated and it turned out rubbery. That is when I realized having a proper thermometer is essential. On my first try I raised the temperature to a level that killed my good cultures. I will repeat myself from my goat post: if you really want to start making cheese it is imperative that you buy a digital thermometer. I found one at my grocery store for 15$ and it goes from -40 to 450 degrees F (-40 to 230 degrees C). Now let’s cut the curd…

Ξ Feta Cheese Ξ

1 gallon whole milk, preferably goat or a mix
3/4 cup cultured buttermilk
1/4 tsp lipase powder
1/2 tsp calcium chloride
1/4 tsp liquid rennet
1/4 cup + 1/2 oz of non-iodized salt

Begin by warming the milk in a saucepan to 86° F. Add the buttermilk and stir well with a slotted spoon or skimmer. Cover the pan, and let the mixture rest for about an hour. Maintain the temperature at 86° F (keep burner on low to med-low and check often).

At 40 min, add lipase to 1/4 cup of cold water and mix. After the hour, add lipase while stirring for 30 seconds and then add the calcium chloride stirring for 30 seconds. Add the liquid rennet and stir gently, but thoroughly, for 1 minute. Cover again, and let the mixture sit, undisturbed for an hour, while always maintaining the temperature at 86° F.

At the end of this time, the rennet will have caused the milk to congeal into a gelatin-like texture. Using a knife that will reach to the bottom of the pan, slice the curds into 1/2″ cubes in a crosshatch pattern. While you still maintain the temperature at 86° F, let the curds rest for 5-10 minutes. You should notice the almost-clear, liquid whey seeping out from the cuts. Then stir gently for about 15 minutes to break up the curd.

Pour the curds into a colander lined with 2 layers of cheesecloth and drain for 30 minutes. Reserve 1 quart of the whey in a container and refrigerate. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth, and hang over a bowl or the sink to drain at room temperature for about 24 hours.

Cut the feta into 2- to 3-inch pieces. Arrange the squares in a single layer in a shallow container with a tight-fitting lid. Sprinkle about 1/2 oz. salt over all sides of the cheese. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 4 days. Each day, pour off the whey as it collects in the bottom of the container.

Transfer the cheese pieces to the 3 quart glass container—it’s fine to stack them at this point. Heat slowly 1 cup of your whey to almost boiling. Stir in 1/4cup salt, 1 tsp vinegar  and 1/4 tsp of Calcium Chloride. Once the salt is dissolved mix in remaining brine. Pour this brine over the cheese, covering it completely. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 4 weeks. The longer the feta is aged, the stronger the flavor and crumblier the texture will be.

If you want to learn more about cheese making check out my past posts on

Cheesepalooza: Goat Cheese


Not a lot of people can beat my sweet tooth. I love sugar. Salty things have never called out my name so much. But a candy bar and a bag of chips in front of me…the chocolate will vanish and the chips will remain. The one exception to that rule is cheese! I have been obsessed and worship cheese for as long as I can remember.Soft, hard, mild, blue, crusty, stinky – I love them all.

I have always been fascinated with the concept of making cheese at home as well but quite frankly I felt intimidated. I am so freaking excited when I learned of a new group. It did not take much to convince me to hop along on the Cheesepalooza challenges wagon. Every month we make a new cheese. We are starting slow with easy soft cheese and we will build are way up the cheese ladder. This is actually the 2nd challenge, the September one. To late to officially enter but I wanted to make my goat cheese. Check out the goat cheese round-up here. I will post my October entry this week on time where I will make Feta.


– A normal kitchen will also have all the basic equipment required. I personally would like to point out 2 possible exceptions: you will need some cheesecloth and a PRECISE kitchen thermometer. I learned very quickly that knowing the EXACT temperature is absolutely essential or you can ruin your cooking process. A meat or candy thermometer will not do as you need to read lower temperatures. I recommend getting a digital one as well for a quick reading. I found one at my grocery store for 15$ and it goes from -40 to 450 degrees F (-40 to 230 degrees C).

– In a perfect world we all could have access to raw milk. But I live in a big city and in my country it is illegal to sell non pasteurized milk. For this recipe is is not a bog deal but I will have to take certain precautions in future challenges. We’ll discuss in due time. What I did find out with this recipe is you want whole milk. The more fat the more cheese you will have. Alas I could only find 2% goat milk so my yield was low, about 1/2 cup of cheese out of 1 liter of milk.

Since I did not have enough time to order the book once I decided to join I went hunting online for a basic Goat Cheese recipe. I used the one found on Guilty Kitchen. You do not need any special ingredient for this cheese. The next ones I will make do require buying certain cheese making ingredients but for this recipe you will find everything you need at the grocery store.

Ξ Basic Chèvre – Goat Cheese Ξ

1 liter goat milk, whole preferably
1 cup cultured buttermilk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 to 1/4 tsp sea salt, to taste

Pour goat’s milk and buttermilk into a medium sized saucepan with thermometer attached (alternatively you could take a reading every now and then if you don’t have a clip on thermometer).  Set heat to medium. Bring the milk to between 180°F. When the milk begins to bubble slightly and begin to curdle, remove it from the heat.

Stir in 1 tbsp of the lemon juice and then let the milk sit for 20 minutes. If it does not curdle you can add a tab more lemon juice at a time, but not too much. The curdle grains should be the size of a 1/4 grain of rice.

Ladle the curds into the cheesecloth lined colander and drain the whey into the bowl. Either save the whey for goat-y protein shakes or toss it.

Tie the top of the cheesecloth as tight as possible and secure it with string or an elastic. Place a plate on top of the cheesecloth and weigh it down with the can or other heavy item for 2 hours to drain on the counter.

Scrape into bowl and season with salt (and herbs if you like). Use immediately or return to fridge and allow the flavors to intensify over the next 1-2 days. Will keep for up to one week in the fridge.

I really liked the result and enjoyed my goat cheese a lot. I did not have a precise thermometer yet for this one so I think it was a little overheated and the texture was just ever so slightly chewy, but just a bit. It did not affect the taste or enjoyment. This is a really easy cheese so go ahead and try it at home.

If you want to learn more about cheese making check out my past posts on