How To Make Homemade Mozzarella, Because It Trumps The Store-Bought Kind

04/14/2015 10:50 am ET | Updated May 15, 2015

Mozzarella is a beautiful thing. What's even more beautiful than mozzarella is fresh mozzarella. So soft that it melts in your mouth, it's an entirely different ballgame than the stretchy stuff you buy in stores. Once you try just-made mozzarella , you'll never want to go back. This is why it's worth learning how to make the cheese from scratch. Trust us, it's easier than it sounds.

First you need cheese curds. Cheese curds are solids that form when rennet or acid is added to milk. You must separate the solids (the curds) from the whey (the liquid) in order to make cheese from milk. Once you have the curds, you can start the mozzarella-making process.

Warm the curds to room temperature by pouring slightly warm water around the curds. Be careful not to pour the water directly onto the curds but around them. This helps the curds warm at an even pace. After a few minutes, the entire curd should be warmed. You can check to make sure the middle is the same temperature as the outside by cutting a curd open.

Next, break up the cheese curds. "Don't overthink this," Dan Belmont, Education and Events Manager at Murray's Cheese, says.

When the curds are broken up into rough pieces, about an inch long, drain the water and salt the curds generously.

Then, pour hot water (165 degrees F) around the curds and let them rest between one and two minutes.

Lightly form the curds together into a ball. Don't overwork the curds. Simply push them together, gently.

Once you've formed the curds into a ball, you can use a couple of techniques to smooth it out into something you'd see in a grocery store or at a restaurant. At Murray's Cheese in New York City, the mozzarella-making class suggests that you pull cheese out from the ball and form it into a long ribbon. Then you roll the ribbon up like a croissant and push it through your hands to form a ball.

The video here from Food Wishes suggests you form a long log and cut sections to then roll into balls.

However your form your mozzarella balls, you'll need to do it quickly and keep the temperature of the cheese high. If the temperature starts to cool too much, return the cheese into hot water -- 165 degrees or as hot as your hands can stand it. The heat will help keep the cheese malleable, and will allow you to shape the cheese without overworking it. This will result in a silkier, smoother final product.

Once you've formed the mozzarella into your desired shape, put it in slightly salted warm water and eat it as soon as possible!

Get a homemade mozzarella recipe from The Kitchn.

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