Home-Made Buffalo Mozzarella

Home-made Buffalo Mozzarella

Okay, stop sniggering at the back, please. The title of the post doesn’t say that I made my own bodyweight in mozzarella or enough mozzarella to keep Papa John’s afloat. I will admit that it’s not the largest haul of cheese ever produced but that’s the thing about artisan cheese, right – quality over quantity. So there.

Anyone who has ever read my blog before will know that previous attempts to make cheese have not always resulted in unqualified success. The first attempt resulted in a basic cheese which managed to combine both utter blandness with a nauseating creaminess. The second was a cheddar that collapsed. The third was my Tooting Gold cheddar, otherwise known affectionately as E-Colin; he is currently still languishing in my cellar so it remains to be seen whether he is a success or not. The last attempt was a feta which looked to be going well, until it disintegrated into slime in its own brine. Nice:

bad feta cheese

Having consulted Twitter followers and random cheese-makers and maestros I’ve met along the way, the consensus seemed to be to get back to basics and make a nice fresh chèvre, nothing too complicated. So, naturally, I decided to ignore them all and try and make a mozzarella, a fiendishly difficult cheese that has defeated many a home cheese-maker and even some professionals. And the reason for this? Simply because my local market sells raw buffalo milk, so it seemed a shame not to give it a try. It’s made by Alham Wood, whose buffalo cheese I tried back in the summer. Here is the milk that I procured; I went for half and half with raw cow’s milk in the end, a total of two litres:

Home-made Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese

Once I had the milk in the bag, it was time to get some Citric Acid. Now, Citric Acid has all kinds of culinary uses, in everything from elderflower cordial to boiled sweets, but it also has some, ahem, less savoury recreational uses, shall we say. I knew that the chemist round the corner sold it but I’d also been warned that they could be a bit suspicious about why you’re buying it. ‘Not a problem,’ I thought, ‘I’m in there every third day buying Calpol and Ben-10 socks. I’m pretty sure this will be fine.’ Except of course the usual guy isn’t in there.

‘Hallo!’ I say jauntily. ‘I’d like some Citric Acid, please.’

The chemist chap takes it off the shelf and eyes me suspiciously. ‘Can I ask what you’ll be using it for?’

‘Making cheese,’ I say, doing the old look-them-confidently-straight-in-the-eye trick.

‘Cheese?’ he says (and this is where I really should have kept my trap shut and not tried to be all clever-clever about it.)

‘Yes,’ I say. ‘I’m not about to use it to inject heroin into my eyeballs, if that’s what you’re thinking, haha.’

The chap stares at me for a long, long time whilst fingering the little box and then eventually says, ‘Oh no, not that, I was thinking of something much worse.’

I’m not sure which of us was most freaked out by now but fortunately I did manage to leave the shop with some Citric Acid. If you’re wondering what it looks like, here it is:

Home-made Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese Citric Acid

Now, in terms of recipes, I started off following this one from The Guardian (note the ‘started off’ bit here. And as for ‘more difficult…but an enjoyable way to spend an hour or so’, my eye, Fearnley-Whittingstall…)

First I dissolved 1 tsp of the Citric Acid crystals in 60ml of boiled-then-cooled to warm water. The milk was already at the right temperature (13C) as it had been sitting out on the market all morning and then in my kitchen so I added the Citric Acid mixture and heated it to 30C. As promised, it started to curdle.

I then diluted ¼ tablet of rennet in a tablespoon of boiled, cooled water and added it to the milk. I warmed it gently to 38-39C, stirring from time to time and then removed it from the heat and left it for about 15 minutes, to let the curd set and separate from the whey. EXCEPT IT DIDN’T BECAUSE IT NEVER STUFFING DOES FOR ME, GRRR. So I left it for a bit longer but this was still the pathetic haul of curds that I got.

Home-made Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese Curds

Determined to see it through, I continued to follow Hugh’s oh-so-simple instructions which involved pressing the whey out of the curds but leaving them ‘dripping a little’. I added 2tbsp of salt to the whey in the pan and heated it to 80C. At this point I was supposed to dip the curds into the hot whey for a minute or so. The first problem I encountered was that the whey was really hot so I tried to do it with a slotted spoon but then the curds started collapsing back into the whey. So, determined not lose my precious curds, I did what cheese-makers have been doing since time immemorial and bunged it in the microwave for one minute (a technique I read about here.)

I repeated this at thirty-second intervals, tipping off a little bit more whey each time. After about the third time, the curds started to get a bit stretchy and I could pull and knead them a bit:

Home-made buffalo mozzarella stretching the curds

And finally – LOOK! – lovely, stretchy, foldy curds that I pulled and kneaded and finally made a little ball of mozzarella with:

Home-made buffalo mozzarella stretching the curds

So there we are. It’s not the four balls promised by Fearnley-Whitters but it is fresh buffalo mozzarella, which went down very nicely with a few torn leaves of basil. And no, I never did find out what the ‘much worse’ thing was that you can do with Citric Acid, although I’ve been watching a lot of Breaking Bad recently so have my suspicions…

Home-made buffalo mozzarella ball

34 Comments

Filed under home cheese-making

34 responses to “Home-Made Buffalo Mozzarella

  1. Well take a bow! You did really well…. congratulations! :)

  2. Thats great! I have just bought rennet to make a recipe called coffee junket and it says on the bottle it is used for cheese making, so may be tempted. Looks really good

    • Yes, I believe you can use junket rennet although you need to use more because it’s diluted compared to the cheese-making rennet. I have an Italian friend who has used it, so it can be done. Good luck!

  3. Hee hee, this made me giggle. I’d love it if you led a double life, Breaking Bad style, and had a secret second blog listing all the nefarious uses for citric acid.

  4. I had no idea that citric acid was such a Menace to Society!

  5. Loved reading this post, very entertaining. Also scary – I was feeling happy that my feta is sitting happily in its brine in the fridge and now waiting for it to disintegrate! Made ricotta last night – that was pretty easy, using leftover whey and extra milk. Feeling foolishly optimistic I was going to tackle mozzarella next and was being lured in by the Hugh FW piece. Will refer back to this when I get stuck!

    • I think I put too much salt in the brine – it was practically a saturated solution although I had followed a recipe. I was very sad as it had been going so well up until that point :( There was so much milky whey left over from this that I was tempted to try ricotta but to be honest I had started to lose the will to live a bit! I liked the sound of the HFW recipe because it didn’t use a microwave but it’s so tricky to keep all the curds together – if you’ve got a fairly deep slotted spoon, it may do the job. Good luck!

  6. Very impressed by your home made mozzarella – and a bit envious that you have a local market selling such great ingredients! I tried to buy citric acid for elderflower cordial at our local chemist, and was told they were no longer stocking it because people were ‘misusing’ it…

  7. Wow. Last Easter I bought a small tin of citric acid to make sherbert from my local supermarket. Off the shelf, among the baking supplies. I often make ricotta cheese using lemon or vinegar as a curdling agent and have been curious to take it one step further and try my hand at mozzarella. Thanks for a very entertaining post. I’d better lock my not so innocent tin of citric acid away.

    • I think one of the smaller local supermarkets here sells citric acid too; I think it’s the pharmacies that get a bit ‘funny’ about it! Let me know how you get on if you make mozzarella.

  8. This made me giggle! I am intrigued as to what could be worse than using citric acid to inject heroin into your eyeballs – eww! I’ve used it to make elderflower cordial and am not sure I can look at in the same way now that I know it has a much more sinister side!

  9. well done, I’m so glad you got cheese.
    I’m going to attempt my third halloumi, both previous times have resulted in nothing, no curds, no whey, no matter what..
    It can’t be that difficult I’m sure…

  10. Absolutely brilliant! This has made me laugh so much. I’ve just bought a mozzarella making kit for my friends for Christmas and now I;m wondering what evils I have inflicted upon them! Well done for persevering with this. Did it taste great in the end?

    • It tasted pretty good, perhaps slightly cheesier than mozzarella and the texture was a little different. I’d wondered about getting kit but then I’ve already got rennet so wasn’t sure what else it was going to give me. I’m sure your friends will have fun with it.

  11. well now we’re all intrigued as to that much worse use! Congrats on the cheese… It must have tasted like heaven after all that effort!

  12. I take my hat off to you for giving it a go. I am seriously impressed. I too am curious as to citric acid’s more nefarious uses – can you please go back and ask your chemist?!

  13. You did better then I did on my last attempt at mozzarella. Mine was just a runny mess that if you looked sideways at it then it might have resembled ricotta.

  14. Hello! I’ve been meaning to ask: you say your local market sells raw buffalo milk – is this market in Tooting? My brother is a fledgling cheese maker but struggles to find the raw milk…

    • Hiya. It’s Balham Farmers’ Market but if you Google either London Farmers’ Markets or Alham Wood Organics I think they sell at other London markets too. Does your brother live in London? You can buy raw milk at Borough Market and also get it online too.

  15. Oh cool. Thanks for that. Will investigate! Didn’t realise they sold online. He’s in Guildford so Borough Market not overly convenient but as I am near Tooting, I thought I could pick some up for him… Cheers again!

  16. Raw buffalo milk! I’m VERY jealous! :D

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