Based on the method from Epicurious.com
- 1 gallon whole milk (not ultrapasteurized)
- 1 1/2 tsp citric acid
- 1/4 tsp liquid rennet
- 1 1/4 C warm water, divided
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Combine 1 C of the water with the citric acid. Also combine the 1/4 C water with the rennet in a separate container.
- Pour the gallon of milk into a large, heavy-bottom pot. Stir the citric acid mixture into the milk and place it on the stove over medium heat. Use a Thermapen to measure the temperature as it climbs. Remove the pot from heat when the temperature reaches 90°F (32°C).
- Add the rennet mixture to the curdled milk while stirring. Stir for a full 30 sec0nds to ensure even distribution. This will maximize your yield.
- Cover the pot with a lid and set your timer for 5 minutes.
- After the timer sounds, check the pot. If the milk is jiggly and pulls away from the edge of the pot, it’s ready. if not, reset your timer for 5 more minutes.
- Using a long, thin spatula or a knife, cut the gelled milk into 1/2″ square curds by cutting a cross-hatch pattern.
- Return the pot to the stove and cook the curds. Stir very gently a few times while you cook the curds to 105°F (41°C), checking with the Thermapen.
- Take the pot from the heat and let it sit another 5 minutes.
- Use a fine-mesh sieve to strain out the curds. Don’t pour out all the whey! You’ll need it in a couple minutes.
- Allow the curds to drain over another bowl or the sink while you reheat the whey to 185°F (85°C).
- Put on some food-safe rubber gloves with cotton gloves underneath if you have them.
- Dip the strainer full of curds into the hot whey for about 2 minutes. Fold the curds a few times by hand and check their temperature with the Thermapen. It should be 135°F (57°C).
- Remove the curdy mass from the whey, sprinkle it with the salt, and start folding and stretching the cheese. If it tears easily, reheat it for a few moments in the hot whey.
- Once the cheese [footnote]yes, it’s cheese now![/footnote] is smooth and elastic, form it into your desired shape.
- You can chill your cheese in an ice bath before serving (though it’s quite nice when still warm from the pot), or before storing in some of the cooled, lightly salted whey.
- Serve as is, in a salad, or, perhaps best of all, on a magnificent Pizza Margherita.