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I've spotted a couple of articles (http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-homemade-mozzarella-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-174355, http://www.simplebites.net/the-best-party-trick-ever-how-to-make-thirty-minute-mozzarella/ )about making mozzarella at home in 30 minutes or so, using milk and some ingredients that are easy to order online. It sounds like fun and I'd like to try it, but a gallon of milk? And doubtless half a gallon of whey to sneak into random meals for the next few days? It seems like a big commitment.

Is it feasible to just divide everything by 4? How accurately do you need to do that, because 1/16th cup of water to dissolve things in seems a challenge, as does 1/8th tablet of rennet. Or is it ok if you use twice as much rennet as you should and you're just wasting a little rennet? How do you adjust the microwaving time? Should I just accept that there's a reason all the online recipes involve a gallon of milk?

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3 Answers 3

I've done this and it'll work, but your yield will be small. With a gallon of quality milk, my yield is about one pound of mozz. Divide that by four and it ends up being about 4 oz.

Use an appropriate size pot and microwave container... And use a thermometer.

I've only used liquid rennet and I don't think there's much difference in dissolving the tabs.

I've also found the process to be somewhat forgiving on close but not exact measurements of ingredients when using good quality (non UHT - NOT ultra high temp pasteurized) whole milk. Other milk not so forgiving and UHT milk just ended up as ricotta.

The microwave process heats the curds to extract as much water out of them as possible, then they become soft and stretchy and can be pulled and kneaded like dough. Heat, extract, pull, knead, repeat.

Don't be discouraged if the first batch isn't quite perfect. It'll take longer than 30 min. your first time - you're going to keep wondering if your doing the whole microwave process right or if it's hot enough.

A great site for questions and instructions is http://www.cheesemaking.com.

Their FAQ addresses reducing the quantities in half (#5) and how to dissolve and reduce the rennet tab - http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/pg/242-FAQ-Mozzarella.html.

Their 30 min mozz instructions with pictures to see how everything looks along the way http://cheesemakinghelp.blogspot.com/2010/12/making-mozzarella-with-anya-age-10.html

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You do need to be quite accurate with proportions if you were to try this in smaller quantities; the rennet and acid interact to cause the milk to curdle and produce the final texture. If you throw that balance off, your results may differ in unpredictable and possibly unpleasant ways. Times will need to be adjusted as well because everything will move faster, but you shouldn't have problems if you use temperature as your guide.

It's probably feasible to divide the recipe, but the reason for using this amount is that it's easier to press and pull the cheese with a critical mass than it is with a tiny little ball. Plus, the technique is relatively simple, but it still involves multiple steps and takes some effort. It's quite a process to go through to end up with a relatively small amount of cheese. If you don't think you could use the entire batch, have some friends over and send them home with a mozzarella ball, it's a great party favor.

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In my experience, I don't think it would be worthwhile to do less than a gallon of milk at at time -- the yield would be too small. Add to that the tricky conversion of proportions of the other ingredients, and it just doesn't seem worth it.

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