QA5 – Why Doesn’t My Mozzarella Stretch Properly?

By on 06/10/2011

Mozzarella won't stretch

Mozzarella, it’s the cheese that many new cheese makers try first because of its quick results, delicious taste and versatility of use.

Recipes like 30 Minute Mozzarella make it even more appealing, especially for those who are time poor but want to get involved in home cheese making and experience the thrill of creating their own cheese products.

But, while this recipe is quick and simple and caters to that need for instant gratification, it often causes new cheese makers the most frustration and questions about how to master the delightful stringy cheese they imagined creating.

For Mozzarella to stretch well it needs two things – the right amount of heat to soften the curd, and acidity (pH of approximately 5.2).

The heat part is usually easy enough to work out (aim for about 80 degrees Celsius or 180 degrees Fahrenheit) but the acidity part can cause some real problems.

Acidity is increased either over time or with the addition of cultures or acidic ingredients. The 30 Minute Mozzarella recipe made famous by Ricki Carroll includes citric acid to create the acidity. More traditional recipes use the time element.

What can cause problems is that sometimes you might need both elements, depending on the your milk. Yet, if you are following the 30 Minute Mozzarella Recipe, it doesn’t advise you on lengthening your ripening time. And some traditional recipes don’t mention it either and yet it can make all the difference for a successful Mozzarella make.

Before you think that to get good Mozzarella you are going to have to spend a lot more time in the kitchen check out my Mozzarella Recipe, which I always use and never have any problems with.

To get the acidity required, you leave the curd for a 24-48 hour ripening period which means you can make the curd then leave it until you have more time somewhere in that timeframe then go back and finish it off! There’s really no more extra time spent on the make, just a bit of pre-planning required.

I usually test my curd at 24 hours but have always had the best stretch at nearly 48 hours so now I tend to just work with that. Note though that I am using fresh, raw milk so you would need to do the spin test to figure out what your timing is, depending on your milk source.

If you are struggling to get a good Mozzarella give my recipe a try and please, let me know your thoughts, or any problems you have and I will do my best to help you.

BTW: Did you also know that Mozzarella freezes well so you can make more and store it up for use later. Of course fresh is always best but if you use Mozzarella for pizzas etc, frozen is just fine.

20 Comments

  1. Katy

    07/10/2011 at 4:31 pm

    I look forward to trying yoru recipe because I have had nothing but issues with the 3 previous recipes I have tried for mozzarella: 30-min, traditional, and the traditional in the new Karlin book. Mine doesn’t stretch well and the last batch only started to melt. All the other attempts have failed to melt at all. So soon I will try for a sixth time, and just wait it out:)

  2. alanna

    01/12/2011 at 11:29 am

    Thanks – I will try your recipe. I’ve been trying to get my mozzarella right but it has been really hit and miss, with my last few batches ending up too rubbery and without enough stretch. I hadn’t thought of leaving the curd to ripen longer (plus I really need a pH meter to make the process more accurate). Maybe I’ll try again this weekend.

    • curdnerd

      20/01/2012 at 11:14 am

      Hi, and thanks for visiting Curd-Nerd!

      Mozzarella can become too rubbery if you work it too much but it’s also important to get that stretch that makes Mozzarella so wonderful. I would definitely recommend a longer ripening time and then work your curd just long enough to get it stretching and glossy.

      I would love to hear how you go and if you have better results so drop back and fill us in!

  3. Rachel

    01/03/2012 at 2:02 am

    Help! I have tried to make the 30 min. mozzerella recipe 2 times. Both times by the time I am cutting the curd my milk has gone sour. It is fine up until that point it seems. I am using 2 day old milk. Is it possible that my goat’s milk is starting out to acidic? I keep everything as clean and sterile as possible.

    • curdnerd

      24/04/2012 at 12:20 pm

      Hi Rachel

      Thanks for visiting.

      I have never made the 30 minute Mozzarella recipe so I’m certainly not an expert but my first question would be what your starter to milk ratio is?

      If the milk is going sour at the time of cutting the curd it seems there is a reaction at the point of adding the starter and the rennet. If your milk is too days old, the addition of the starter may be adding too much acid to the cheese?

  4. Adele

    17/03/2012 at 9:45 pm

    Hi, I have had this site bookmarked for a while but have only just had a chance to have a good look after having some problems with my mozzarella yesterday. I see you are in Christchurch! I am in Nelson, so nice to find cooking/cheesemaking advice from someone who knows the local environment and whats around. I am using fresh raw organic milk and a Mad Millie recipe. the first time I did it it worked ok and seemed to stretch alright but it was very squeaky between the teeth to eat and I didn’t find it all that pleasant fresh so grated it all up and used it on pizzas which was lovely! This last time when I tried to stretch it, there just seemed to be heaps and heaps of milky stuff coming out and my hot water was completely opaque. every stretch or squeeze yeilded more. It just wouldn’t come together as a smooth ribbon or ball and looked grainy. I wonder if the milk contained too much cream as it was from the top of the pail or if I hadn’t let the curd set long enough.. it seemed to be well set on the bottom but still grainy on the top which i thought may be to do with the high cream content. any ideas? Eventually I just grated it all up and froze it for pizzas after getting it into a lumpy ball.
    on the plus side, I did get some excellent ricotta from the whey!

    • curdnerd

      24/04/2012 at 12:51 pm

      Hi Adele

      Welcome to another Kiwi Curd-Nerd : )

      It sounds like you might have over worked your curds in your first Mozz attempt. This is what tends to make the cheese squeeky and rubbery.

      And with your second attempt, I think you are on the mark in regards to the curd not being set firm enough. The cream will certainly attribute to that so perhaps try working with the Flocculation Method next time to get a better set that accommodates the milk and also top stir for an extra bit longer when adding the rennet to properly blend the milk, cream and rennet.

      Good luck and let us know how you go : )

  5. Sharon

    30/03/2012 at 7:55 am

    I attempted to make mozzarella with the “30 Minute” recipe. During the second heating in the microwave the curds began to melt and the final consistency was more like a ricotta. What did I do wrong?

    • curdnerd

      10/04/2012 at 1:07 pm

      Hi Sharon

      Thanks for visiting, and for your question.

      I have to confess that I don’t make the 30 minute Mozzarella, nor do I own a microwave so I’m not an expert on the recipe you might be using but I have a few ideas about what could be going wrong.

      First thought I had is regarding the kind of milk you are using. Ultra pasteurized milks are terrible for making cheese and can certainly cause a Mozzarella to turn out crumbly like a Ricotta.

      My second thought is whether you are heating the curds at too high a temperature, too quickly. It is really difficult to manage the temperatures put out by a microwave and with cheese making, it really is important to get the temperatures right.

      The Mozzarella recipe I have here on this site is the ‘long’ version but it’s well worth giving it a try if you are still struggling with the 30 Minute recipe.

      Good luck and let us know how you get on with achieving a good Mozzarella : )

  6. Rachel

    19/11/2012 at 11:03 pm

    Hi, I just took a look at your recipe and it looks great but there is no mention of citric acid. Did it get left out accidentally or do you just build the acidity by letting the curds rest before stretching?

    Thanks!
    RB

    • curdnerd

      17/12/2012 at 11:57 am

      Hi Rachel

      Yes, I allow the acidity to develop through the longer resting time, rather than using Citric acid.

      I prefer this method but you can obviously also use the Citric acid if you want to make your cheese more quickly.

  7. sal

    07/12/2012 at 2:57 pm

    When you are letting the curd drain in a cheese cloth lined colander, and cover. Are you just leaving it in a pot in that colander, draining with a tea towel over the pot ( like proofing bread) on it for 2 days before the stretch? thx

    • curdnerd

      17/12/2012 at 11:54 am

      I leave the colander resting in the top of a large pot to collect any drainage, and then cover the colander with the lid of that pot so it is nesting inside of the pot with just the lip of the colander out between the lid and the pot edge. Hope that makes sense but let me know if not : )

  8. Oread

    02/02/2013 at 5:20 am

    Hi,

    Thanks for the recipe. I gave yours a try after failing at the 30 min recipe a few times. I am about 36 hours into it and was planning on stretching later today. I took a look at my curd to see how things were developing. It smells like plain yogurt, I don’t know how else really to describe it. It’s not a bad smell like milk that has turned, it just smells like plain yogurt. What should my curd smell like? Nothing? Milk? If I eat it will I perish?

    Thanks for any help.

    • curdnerd

      09/02/2013 at 2:53 pm

      Lol! No, you won’t perish : )

      At this point it doesn’t smell like much, but plain yoghurt is a good way to explain it. A little bit sour, but not pungent or strong like you might expect.

      Hope the stretching went well!!!

  9. Monique

    07/05/2013 at 8:56 am

    Great article, thank you! I am new to cheese making and you guessed it, the first one I did was 30 minute mozzarella. I used fresh raw milk and each step worked as described on the recipe. When I got to the stretching bit it stretched on and on forever. There were yells of delight from the kitchen and my husband came in alarm to check what was up, and when I exclaimed “it’s stretching!” he knew for sure that I had lost my mind. The end product tore and melted just as I hoped it would and immediately got used in a pizza that I made from scratch, so I think this early success has hooked me on the whole cheese making thing.

    I am going to give your recipe a try as well, and I have already spent hours on your site and learned a ton for my next cheese making adventure. I have some feta ripening in brine at the moment and I am worried I might have made the brine too salty and ruined the whole batch. The texture is fabulous though and it is keeping it’s shape really well so hoping for the best.

    Thanks for sharing all this great info, I am definitely going to be a regular visitor!

  10. mark

    30/06/2013 at 6:38 am

    I have tried your mozzarella with vegetarian rennet and the curds just dissolve in the water when heating for testing. I have left them for 24,36 and 48hrs and they still dissolve any ideas thanks

    • Curd-Nerd

      17/07/2013 at 4:58 pm

      Hi Mark

      Are your curds firm before putting them into the water? A soft curd will disintegrate very easily. Also, how long are you leaving the curd in the water? If they are left to sit in the high temperatures, they will melt away. Finally, some cheese makers have found that vegetarian rennet just does not produce a firm enough curd for cheeses like Mozzarella. You may not want to use animal based rennet, but if you are not opposed to it, it may be worth trying.

  11. Ciaran Rogers

    24/03/2014 at 11:07 am

    I have wasted a weekend trying to make mozzarella and am supremely frustrated. Why do you need to use 10 liters? Why don’t you use gallon portions like a normal person?

    10 liters is an insane amount of waste if things don’t go right. Please post a recipe for a normal person.

    Is there a post on your blog that says, what am I supposed to do with 10 liters of wasted crap?

    • Curd-Nerd

      01/04/2014 at 1:23 pm

      Hi Ciaran, I’m sorry you were frustrated with your mozzarella.

      Litres is actually the ‘normal person’ metric of where I live, and where a large majority of Curd-Nerd readers lived up until recently. I am currently adding conversions to my recipes as we have increased the number of readers elsewhere but this takes time.

      You are always able to halve a recipe if you don’t want to risk too much wastage.

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