Steaks and Fresh Mozzarella



Victor made homemade mozzarella on Saturday. O.M.G. It's too wonderful to even begin to describe!

And while it takes a bit of finesse, it's not as difficult as it seems. Which is good, because I already want more!

He's been doing really good with his cheese-making - goat cheese and ricotta in the past couple of weeks - but this one was the trickiest, to date. And he nailed it!



The two biggest no-nos are that you can't use ultra-pasteurized milk and you can't use Junket rennet. You're making cheese - go for the quality. We bought organic whole milk and used organic goat milk for the chevre.  You're taking the time to do it - so do it right.

You need a good thermometer and rubber gloves. Clean rubber gloves - not the ones you use for scrubbing floors and stuff.

There are a lot of recipes for making mozzarella on the web,  and most of them are pretty similar. This is an adaption of a few of them.

Okay... start!

Fresh Mozzarella

  • 1 1/4 cups water, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp citric acid
  • 1/4 rennet tablet or 1/4 tsp liquid rennet (NOT Junket rennet)
  • 1 gallon whole milk, NOT ultra-pasteurized
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Prepare the Citric Acid and Rennet:

Measure out 1 cup of water and stir in the citric acid until dissolved. In a separate cup, measure out 1/4 cup of water and stir in the rennet until dissolved.

Warm the Milk:

Pour the milk into the pot. Stir in the citric acid solution. Set the pot over medium-high heat and warm to 90°, stirring gently.

Add the Rennet:

Remove the pot from heat and gently stir in the rennet solution. Count to 30. Stop stirring, cover the pot, and let it sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

Cut the Curds:

After five minutes, the milk should have set, and it should look and feel like soft silken tofu. If it is still liquidy, re-cover the pot and let it sit for another five minutes. Once the milk has set, cut it into uniform curds: make several parallel cuts vertically through the curds and then several parallel cuts horizontally, creating a grid-like pattern. Make sure your knife reaches all the way to the bottom of the pan.

Cook the Curds:

Place the pot back on the stove over medium heat and warm the curds to 105°F. Stir slowly as the curds warm, but try not to break them up too much. The curds will eventually clump together and separate more completely from the yellow whey.

Remove the Curds from Heat and Stir:

Remove the pan from the heat and continue stirring gently for another 5 minutes.

Separate the Curds from the Whey:

Ladle the curds into a strainer set over a bowl to catch the whey.

Heat the curds:

Warm a large pot of water to just below boiling (about 190°).  Set the strainer into the pot so the curds are submerged in the hot water. Let the curds sit for about five minutes. Wearing rubber gloves, fold the curds under the water and check their internal temperature. If it has not reached 135°F, let the curds sit for another few minutes until it does. The curds need to reach this temperature in order to stretch properly.

Stretch and Shape the Mozzarella:

Sprinkle the salt over the cheese and squish it with your fingers to incorporate. Using both hands, stretch and fold the curds repeatedly. It will start to tighten, become firm, and take on a glossy sheen. When this happens, you are ready to shape the mozzarella. You can make one large or several smaller balls. Just don't over-work it.

Store the finished cheese:

Place the mozzarella balls in slightly salted water or whey. Keep refrigerated and use within a week.

This is such a treat. When we get back from vacation and the tomatoes are in full production, I think we'll be seeing a lot more of this!


The steaks were covered in the Peach BBQ Sauce I made yesterday. Fresh corn on the cob...

We're doing well...


Homemade Chevre


Who woulda thunk that some goat milk and some lemon juice could create something so outrageously good?

I'm impressed. Really impressed.

Victor started with the cheese-making a while back with homemade ricotta. We've had it a few times - mostly as a dessert. It's really awesome, rich, and fun to use. Today, he decided it was time to try chevre.

There are several ways to make a homemade chevre, with lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk, and any number of commercial starters with a score of unpronounceable ingredients. Today, we opted for the basic lemon juice.

The concept is pretty simple.

Start with a half-gallon of goat milk. NOT ultra-pasteurized - which you shouldn't buy, anyway.


Slowly heat milk until it reaches 180°


Add lemon juice and stir. Let sit for 10 minutes.


Pour into a cheesecloth-lined colander. Victor used a flour sack towel.


Hang the bundle over the pot to drain with a wooden spoon.


Shape it into a log and chill.



Homemade Chevre

adapted from

  • 1/2 gal quart goat's milk
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • salt to taste

Slowly heat the milk on the stove until it reaches 180°. Gentle bubbles should be forming and the surface will look foamy. Turn off the heat.

Stir in the lemon juice then let the milk sit for 10 minutes. The milk should curdle and become slightly thicker on the surface.

Line a colander with two layers of cheese cloth. Gently pour the milk into the cheese cloth then gather the cheesecloth up around the curds and tie it into a bundle.

Hang the bundle over a pot so the liquid can drip out. (You can do this by attaching the bundle to a wooden spoon or a ladle and setting the spoon over the top of the pot.)

Let the cheese drain for at least 1 1/2 hours. Scrape the cheese into a bowl. Stir in salt and/or other ingredients to taste.

Use your hands to pat and shape the cheese into a small wheel or log.

The flavor and texture of the cheese usually improves a little bit if you refrigerate it for a few hours before serving. The goat cheese should stay fresh in the refrigerator for 1 week.

This really, really is awesome!  It's not difficult and can be made with items many folks already have at home.

And if you have kids? A great project to get them to see how real food is made and a way to get them to eat something different.

We'll be making more. And more. And more.



Homemade Ricotta


We're planning dessert for Wednesday. I had an idea for s broiled peach with fresh ricotta and a warmed honey and pistachio topping. Victor suggested figs and balsamic.

I started drooling.

Decisions, decisions... I decided I had to make both and see which one I liked best. Actually, I decided that a balsamic reduction with pistachios would work with either, so I nixed the honey completely.

Victor made the homemade ricotta today, so I went to work...

I sliced a peach and a couple of figs in half and sprinkled them with demerara sugar. Under the broiler they went until the sugar crystallized and the fruit was heated through- just a couple of minutes.

I topped each piece of fruit with some homemade ricotta and then drizzled everything with a balsamic reduction. The final act was chopped roasted and salted pistachios.

Both of them were stellar...

Fresh Ricotta

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Add all ingredients to a heavy pot and simmer 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for 30 minutes.

Scoop curds into a cheesecloth-lined sieve and drain about 30 minutes.  Squeeze to remove as much whey as possible.

Cover and chill.

Balsamic reduction is pretty basic. Place balsamic vinegar in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce by at least half, until it is syrupy. Be careful not to burn it and use the vent or open windows...

So the question is... which one will be dessert on Wednesday?

Find out Wednesday...