*The Target temperature for Thermophilic Culture is 108 degrees F, the target temperature for Mesophilic Culture is 100 degrees F.
3. Once the culture has been allowed to ripen, you can add the rennet. Add rennet and stir slowly from top to bottom for approximately 30 seconds.
4. Allow the milk to set undisturbed for 45 minutes to allow the culture to work and for the rennet to form the curd. Keep the milk at the specified target temperature during this period. A sink or water bath is the preferred method to perform this step as the cheese cannot be heated on a stovetop due to the curd formation.
5. After approximately 45-60 minutes, the curd should be ready to cut. Cut the curds at 2-inch intervals and then make the same cuts at right angles to the first cuts. Allow to rest for 5 minutes and then break the rest of the curd into walnut-sized pieces (.5"-1"). Note: The smaller the pieces, the more whey will be released and the drier the cheese will be. This is the first step in determining the moisture for the final cheese product.
6. Give the curds a brief stir and allow the curds to settle to the bottom of the pot for 60 minutes. Stir the pot every 5-10 minutes to keep the curds separated in order to retain the most moisture. Keep the temperature around 100 degrees F during this time. Note: For a drier cheese, more constant stirring will cause more whey to be released. The temperature can even be increased to 106-108 degrees F for more moisture removal.
7. The curds and whey can now be transferred to a colander or mold to form into a single solid mass of curd. Note: The whey is allowed to run off and be collected for other uses. It can even still be made into Ricotta as the acid has not been fully produced yet so it will still be sweet.
8. From this point, the bacteria is now producing the acid for a good stretching mozzarella so it is important to keep the curds warm. The simplest way to do this is to place the curds into a water bath and keep the curd at 96-100 degrees F. Allow the curds to further ripen in the warmth for approximately 2 more hours and then begin testing for the stretch. Fill an extra pot with water and bring it to a simmer. Cut a small piece of curd from the large mass and place it in a cup of the hot water that is around 180 degrees F. Allow the curd to sit for a few minutes and then remove from the water. If it stretches, then you are ready for the final hot water stretching phase. If it does not stretch, then continue to warm for another 15-20 minutes and then retest until you get a good stretch. Note: The stretch should be about 2-3 times the original length of the sample without breaking.
9. Once the curds show that they are stretching, place the large curd on a cutting board and chop it into .5-1" cubes and place in a bowl or pot for heating and stretching.
10. Add the hot water (approximately 2-3 cups) to the edges of the curds ( don't pour directly onto them) and use a wooden spoon to gently move the curds around to heat evenly. The curds should begin to lose their shape and meld into a smooth mass. If this does not happen after 3-5 minutes, add another 2-3 cups of hot water until you can see the curd mass forming.
11. Once the curd mass forms, you can begin to use the spoon to start the stretch by lifting the mass and allowing it to stretch down from its own weight. If your mass begins to cool and stretch less, add more hot water. When the curd begins to look like taffy you can begin to lift the curds while turning the spoon and winding them into a smooth mass. You can now dump the water and give the curd a few longer pulls while folding it back onto itself and eventually rolling it into a ball. Note: Be careful not to get too carried away with having too much fun with the stretching as you could dry out the cheese excessively.
--> During the stretch it is a good time to add any salt or other additions to your Mozzarella.
12. For the final shaping, it is easier to split the mass into 2 smaller balls because they are easier to handle. Hold the warm mozzarella with thumb and forefinger of one hand using the other hand from underneath to push the curd up inside itself. Continue working the curd in this manner until the ball becomes smooth and shiny.