Yield: 3/4 – 1 pound
1 1/2 level teaspoons citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
1 gallon whole milk (you may use skim but the yield will be less and drier)
1/8 -1/4 teaspoon lipase powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet (or 1/4 rennet tablet) diluted in 1/4 cup cool water
1 teaspoon cheese salt, sea salt, or kosher salt (optional)
While stirring add the citric acid solution to the milk at 55° F and mix thoroughly. Heat the milk to 90° F over medium/low heat. The milk will start to curdle. Gently stir in the diluted rennet with an up-and-down motion, while heating the milk to between 100-105° F. Turn off the heat. When the curds begin to pull away from the sides of the pot they are ready to scoop out (allow approximately 3 to 5 minutes for this).
The curds should look like thick yogurt and have a shine to them, and the whey should be clear. If the whey is still milky white, wait a few more minutes. Scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon and place them in a two-quart microwavable bowl. Press the curds gently with your hands, pouring off as much whey as possible. Reserve the whey. Microwave the curds on high for 1 minute. Drain off all excess whey. Gently fold the cheese, as if kneading bread, with your hand or a spoon. This distributes the heat evenly throughout the cheese, whcih will not stretch until it is too hot to touch (145° F inside the curd). Microwave two more times for 35 seconds each. After each heating, knead again to distribute the heat and continue to drain off whey. Knead quickly until it is smooth and elastic. Add salt to taste. When the cheese stretches like taffy, it is done. If the curds break instead of stretching, they are too cool and need to be reheated. When the cheese is smooth and shiny, roll it into small balls. Eat while warm, or place them in a bowl of ice water for half an hour. This will bring the inside temperature down rapidly, and help to produce a consistent smooth texture throughout the cheese.
You can also roll the cheese out, while still hot, like pizza dough and sprinkle it with fresh herbs and/pesto. Roll it into a log (like a cinnamon roll), wrap it in plastic wrap, and put it in the microwave for 10-20 seconds. Unwrap it and cut it into pinwheels.
Don’t miss our article on basic cheese making.