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I bought my wife a mozzerella kit for christmas, and we tried to make it last night. We followed the directions pretty closely. I supposed we could have removed a bit more whey at some early steps. It also got up to 112F instead of the called for 105F before letting the curds form. But it never came together or reached the shiny smooth consistency that the directions called for. It would not hold together well enough to pull / stretch. It ended up like ricotta. It was good, but it wasn't what we were aiming for.

When doing my Christmas shopping, I noticed that some of the kits were for making mozzarella or ricotta, so I assume that the two have the same ingredients and a slightly different process. So what's the difference in process for the two? I'm thinking that's where we went wrong.

The result actually looked a lot like what this cheese making site says will result from using UHT milk, but I checked before making the cheese, and it was just pasteurized (and I just double checked, and it still just says pasteurized).

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While not a duplicate, you might be helped by the answers in How do I make paneer firm and chewy like in the restaurant –  justkt Jan 13 '11 at 13:58
Thanks, @justkt, but that doesn't really answer my questions. Michael's link exactly describes what happened, but I didn't use UHT milk. I updated the question with a link. –  yossarian Jan 13 '11 at 15:20

5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I have the same problem and went through 3 different brands of milk, thinking they were UHT. However, after some experimentation I determined what I was doing wrong.

In my case, after cutting the curd, and while the water was heating back up to 105, we were stirring too much.

The key is very slow gentle movement. Just enough to slightly move the curds, and not disturb them.

"Stirring" will cause you to end up with a nice tasting ricotta, but not mozzarella.

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According to playing with fire and water, the key is raw milk - not pasteurized at all. The author says that she tried several times to make mozzarella and it always turned out like ricotta, until she switched to raw milk.

It's also very important to let the curds acidify, which essentially means letting it sit around for a while. If you don't do that, the curds won't spin, and if they don't spin and stretch, then you can't make a firm cheese, it'll just stay like jelly. The curds are acidified when they spin (stretch without breaking).

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My sister makes mozzarella all the time with pasteurized milk, and hasn't had any problems. Raw milk might make it easier, but it's not required. Pretty much all sources say ultra pasteurized is right out, though. –  bikeboy389 Jan 13 '11 at 15:46
It's possible that it's not the pasteurization of the milk that's the problem, but the homogenization. In the US, the only way to get non-homogenized milk is to get raw milk, while (for example) in Hungary the only way to get homogenized milk is to get the UHT stuff - the regular milk you get in bags is pasteurized, but not homogenized. –  Marti Jan 13 '11 at 16:39
@Marti - That's not entirely true. I can buy milk from a local diary that is pasteurized but not homogenized, and I live in the US. Look for local brands, Google for local dairies. You may find someone making simply pasteurized milk. –  Instance Hunter Jan 13 '11 at 16:53
Raw milk is very hard to get hold of in the UK, it's illegal to sell it in Scotland and in England it is only legal to sell it "direct to consumer" by the farmer, so farmer's markets sell it to the general public, and farm shops, but no supermarket is allowed to carry it. Health risks are deemed too high. –  Orbling Jan 13 '11 at 19:34
@bikeboy et al, I am honestly not experienced enough to go into great detail beyond what I've read and would welcome further contributions as to the science behind this. All I know is that several very reputable and well-known chefs and cooking enthusiasts seem to empirically corroborate the claim that you need raw milk, and that yossarian (the OP) claims to have gotten the same sub-standard result even with non-UHT (but still pasteurized) milk. Perhaps it's possible to make mozzarella with pasteurized milk but you need a different technique. –  Aaronut Jan 14 '11 at 3:01

this is similar to my question: how do I make my goat cheese creamy?

I would suspect that bringing the temperature higher than directed would cause your problems. In my case I ended up raising the temperature because my cheese wouldn't separate, which resulted in a crumbly hard cheese, instead of something creamy.

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I had the same problem and bought a pH meter at which point I discovered my milk didn't have enough acid so I added 2 t citric acid and problem solved. The milk should get thick like cream prior to putting in rennet. pH should be around 5.2.

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I kept experiencing the Ricotta thing and decided to change the milk I used. Living in a city, far away from any dairies, I went online looking for powdered-raw-milk. Needless to say, there is none. I did find some powdered goat's milk online. I went to the company's website and used their store locator and found a place close that sold the powdered goat's milk. After striking out with cow milk, I thought goat's milk may give me better results.

When I arrived, I found the powdered milk and I also discovered that the store sold raw milk, from both cows and goats.

I would suggest doing an online search for producers of: powdered goat's milk, almond flour, kambucha, etc. and use the "Store Locator" or "Where to Buy" features. Chances are, these products are sold in places that also offer raw milk.

Of course, after using the raw milk, the ricotta texture went away. I now have real mozzarella cheese.

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You cannot have powdered raw milk. Powdering the milk involves heating it. –  rumtscho Jan 11 '13 at 13:16
It is possible to make powdered milk without heating it. It could be powdered by freeze-drying for instance. wikihow.com/Dry-Milk lists 3 ways to make dried milk. –  Brian Minton Dec 5 '14 at 2:14

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