Homemade Fresh Mozzarella + Cheesemaking Kit Giveaway!

It was just a matter of time before I tried to make my own cheese on this blog. There are few things more satisfying to me than making something from scratch with my own two hands. I guess that’s why I was also drawn to activities like knitting, sewing, painting, carpentry – and, of course, cooking – from an early age. Even if my end result isn’t 100% professional quality (and it rarely is), homemade has that “something special” that always trumps store-bought in my mind.

Domenica Marchetti‘s story about her experiences making fresh mozzarella with her 12-year old daughter on the Washington Post‘s All We Can Eat blog sparked my interest in giving it a try. I ordered the cheesemaking kit she recommended, and I’ve had so much fun with it that I’ve decided to order another to give away to one lucky reader – be sure to read (or just scroll) all the way to the end of this post to enter. [THE CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED]

It turns out you need few special ingredients – citric acid and rennet – to make mozzarella, and this is where the kit comes in. It includes both ingredients, as well as a handy thermometer (there’s a bit of temperature-taking involved in the cheesemaking process), cheese salt and a cheesecloth (you use this for ricotta, which you can also make with this kit). They give you enough for, like, 30 batches of cheese.

While the kit supplies you with the necessary special ingredients you’re on your own for the household staples, namely water and milk. Oddly enough, find the “right” water and the “right” milk is actually the hardest part of the whole process!

The water needs to be free of chlorine. I had no idea how to determine this so I just went with my regular tap water in my first batch…and didn’t yield any curds. After learning from Mr. Google that you can remove chlorine from water by leaving it out in the open for 24 hours, I gave it a second try and got curds – hooray!

The rest of the cheesemaking process went smoothly, I sampled my finished homemade cheese (yum!) and proceeded to store it in a container of water like you get at the store…without reading and heeding the kit’s advice to store it in plastic wrap. By the next day it had largely disintegrated.

Pouting ensued…

My third attempt at cheesemaking was looking like the charm. I had my de-chlorinated water, made my cheese, loved how it came out, stored it properly. I’d mastered fresh mozzarella…go me! I was all proud of myself and excited to share my photos on Panini Happy. Then I went back to Domenica’s original post and I couldn’t help but notice that her curds looked a whole lot different than mine. Not tiny little clumplets, but big, soft, shiny clumps.

That sinking feeling in my stomach got even worse as I looked at her stretched curds looked – all long and soft. More taffy, less play-doh.

I think the issue might be with the other “regular” ingredient, the milk. There’s much guidance on the kit’s website about choosing milk and the importance of not using the ultra-pasteurized kind. I used Alta Dena, which appears on their “good milk” list but I think next time I’ll spring for some of the pricey local creamery milk and see if I have a different result.

I decided to share my photos anyway…as evidence that, like I said before, DIY projects don’t always come out perfectly. There’s often a good deal of trial and error (and trial…trial…error…error…error) before you’re a pro.

This whole learning process has been such a fun experience – and I still have 27 more tries left on this kit! I was thrilled with my end result. It looked and tasted like fresh mozzarella cheese. It was creamy, a little bit salty and melted beautifully on my Peach Caprese Panini. I was proud enough to photograph it on my special marble cheese board. 🙂

And now for the giveaway…

I’m sharing the cheesemaking fun! I’ll send one Panini Happy reader a 30 Minute Mozzarella & Ricotta Cheesemaking Kit like the one I used (even the box is fun!).

TWO ways to enter the Cheesemaking Kit Giveaway: [THE CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED]

  1. Leave a comment on this post – What is your favorite dish that uses fresh mozzarella? If you’ve got a link to recipe, feel free to include it!
  2. Leave a comment on the “It’s GIVEAWAY Time!” post on the Panini Happy Facebook page (there’s another question to answer over there)

You can answer once in each place for a total of two entries. The giveaway closes on Monday, July 19, 2010 at 12:00 PM PDT. Each entry will be assigned a number and one winner, selected at random via random.org, will be announced on Tuesday, July 20, 2010. Due to shipping costs, this giveaway is open to readers with U.S. only.

* This is not a sponsored giveaway. It is funded 100% by yours truly.


KathyPanini Happy, online since 2008, is more than just a sandwich blog. Here, you'll find hundreds of my original panini recipes, my guide to choosing a panini press and a whole lot of other creative uses for the panini press.
~ Kathy Strahs
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  1. sara wrote:

    I just made a fantastic dish with fresh mozzarella which may just become my new favorite! It’s kind of based off of this recipe: http://www.thewrightrecipes.com/dinnersolutions/dinner-20-in-20-minutes-or-less-62
    but with homemade peperonata and fresh mozzarella as the cheese. Fantastically delicious!
    Love this giveaway – I’ve made homemade ricotta with fantastic results and would love to try mozzarella!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  2. That is so cool! I’ve always wanted to try cheesemaking. I LOVE fresh mozzarella with tomatoes right out of the garden, and my tomatoes are just ripening up. Perfect timing!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  3. Rae wrote:

    Insalata Caprese! So fresh and yummy – especially in the summer!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  4. Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  5. Lindsay wrote:

    I recently made my first batch of homemade ricotta, which was super easy, and I’d love to try my hand at more ‘refined’ cheeses! I think my favorite dish using mozzarella would have to be caprese paired with basil and heirloom tomatoes, and maybe a little balsamic drizzled on top. The ultimate summer snack! Yum!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  6. Valerie wrote:

    I have a great recipe for Turkey Manicotti. I think I know what is for dinner tonight. I bet it would be so much better with your fresh cheese!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  7. Camila wrote:

    I love cheese so much! making my own would be awesome. I love using fresh mozzarella cheese on ANY pizza i make. I dont have a recipe, but its pretty simple: Store-bought pizza crust, sliced roma tomatoes, fresh basil, and medallions of mozzarella cheese. YUM!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  8. Emily wrote:

    Oh I’ve been wanting to try cheese-making! I’d have to go with Caprese- the tomatoes in the garden are just about ready for it!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  9. My favorite dish with mozzarella is Orangette’s composed summer salad, which uses it really simply — just slices on the side, dressed lightly.

    I think your mozzarella looks great, really!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  10. Shannon wrote:

    I’ve seen this exact cheesemaking kit for sale at a few places and have always wondered what it was like. Thanks for your detailed description of the process, and also a few pitfalls we can try to avoid. i.m.o, there’s nothing better than fresh mozzarella caprese salad made with tomatoes still warm from the garden sun, fresh basil, olive oil, balsamic vinagrette, and a little salt & pepper. Yum!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  11. davethefish wrote:

    Mozzarella is fantastic on pizza! Love it on hamburgers,instead of cheddar. I know how to make creole cream cheese, so I imagine it’s gotta be a kick to make Mozzarella! I really enjoy your posts,very informative and so down to earth.thanks!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  12. Danielle wrote:

    I’d have to say 3 cheese cheese sandwiches on cheese bread ^_^
    Cheese is just yum all around!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  13. Nance wrote:

    I was an anti dairy girl my entire life until I had just made fresh mozzarella at a chicago italian market…….that one tasting got me hooked…and the next step was needing a panini press which in turn got me to this BLOG!!!!!!!!!! So what would be the next step but of course making it myself 8)))))

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  14. Loren wrote:

    I have a recipe I found a while ago for a corn, mozzarella and tomato salad with a basil vinaigrette dressing. I love making this simple salad and it always goes quickly! Its funny that I was just looking into how to make fresh mozzarella the other day and it would be something I am very interested in trying!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  15. Sara wrote:

    Caprese salad is the best with fresh mozzarella!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  16. Darlene wrote:

    I can’t think of anything better than just a simple caprese. I know most of the other readers will come up with fancy dishes, but there is nothing finer than fresh mozzarella with a large basil leaf and a sweet, ripe heirloom tomato, stacked with a drizzling of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a bit of sea salt and fresh pepper. It just tastes of summer in Italy. You can keep your panini and pizzas, I just want caprese!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  17. Fran wrote:

    Okay, now this seals the deal. I have been stuck in the thinking of stage w/fresh ricotta & wouldn’t it be nice to learn mozarella for a year or so. I have to try this!
    Cheese lovers rejoice!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  18. Jodi Calhoun wrote:

    Nice giveaway for a really nice blog. I think I’ll make pizza Margarita.

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  19. Sharon A wrote:

    My favorite way to use fresh mozzarella is with heirloom tomatoes and a splash of good balsamic vinegar.

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  20. Scott wrote:

    Lasagna without question is the best place to use mozzarella!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  21. Amanda wrote:

    who needs a recipe? I would just throw a little olive oil and basil on top and eat it by itself!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  22. I love fresh mozzarella on a homemade margherita pizza! Yum!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  23. Robbi wrote:

    I love caprese, but after I try the Peach Caprese Panini I may have a new favorite.

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  24. starre wrote:

    love it on grilled pizza with fresh tomato and basil mmmmmm

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  25. Rachel wrote:

    My favorite is caprese salad. I could eat it every day!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  26. Carrie wrote:

    I’m a huge fan of cheese in general but fresh mozzarella is the best!! I love this recipe!!! I actually use my panini press to make this instead of toasting the bread!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  27. alexsa wrote:

    I’ve ‘ruined’ good meals a few times by buying on sale commercial mozzarella. The store stuff justs turns to dry cardboard like and takes away from the dish. If you are not making your own, buy a good local made cheese…not hard to tell the difference

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  28. Renee wrote:

    Cheese, one of the staples of life!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  29. christine wrote:

    i love love love caprese salad, so simple, so yummy, drizzle of really good evoo and a crackling of pepper and i am in heaven!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  30. I love fresh mozzarella on pizza and lasagna. I also like to make a twist on caprese using grilled eggplant in place of the tomatoes. Yummy!

    Would love to try my hand at making cheese. I’ve been meaning to do it since I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Winning this kit would mean no more excuses!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  31. Traci wrote:

    Boring I’m sure, but I love it on pizza…

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  32. Alexandra wrote:

    Awesome idea! I love to make it on my Pesto Panini’s. I use both Mozzarella and Feta. Good stuff.

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  33. Tim wrote:

    Wood fired oven baked pizza with fresh mozzarella cheese is PRIMO!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  34. Emily Elisabeth wrote:

    A salad or I would just eat it by itself. Cheese is glorious.

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  35. Michelle B. wrote:

    I love the classic of fresh basil, fresh mozzarella and homemade marinara sauce on a crispy panini or as a grilled pizza!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  36. Cheryl wrote:

    My favorite use for mozzarella is with an antipasti salad or just with a nice bread. This blog is certainly unique, the first time I came across how to make this cheese.

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  37. Amy wrote:

    I love it on pizza…….yum!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  38. Jenni wrote:

    I love to just have a good chunk of Mozzarella and fresh made sourdough bread for breakfast! Oh such a yummy way to start the day!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  39. Liz Kendall wrote:

    Insalata Caprese Salad – by far the best!!!!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  40. PJ wrote:

    My tomatoes will be getting ripe in the next few weeks or so, so I love it on that, and I also make pizza for the family at least twice a month. Me, I’d just eat it plain with some olive oil and pepper.

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  41. Victoria wrote:

    It’s tough to pick just one favorite dish using mozzarella cheese, but perhaps I’ll go with a yummy New York style Margherita pizza! Like the one at Lombardi’s with San Marzano tomatoes and fresh basil fired in their coal oven. Oy!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  42. Carol from Chicago wrote:

    Loved reading your blog about making fresh mozzeralla.
    We go to Naples every year to visit family and the mozzeralla is “to die for” so it would really be fun to try this.
    I like it plain and simple, with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, EVOO, salt, pepper……….I’m in heaven.
    Keep those great blogs coming. Thanks for great reading

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  43. Dalene wrote:

    The simplest and yummiest … pizza!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  44. scrapper al wrote:

    I don’t need a recipe to enjoy fresh mozzarella; I like eating it as is! Is that bad, lol?

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  45. Stella wrote:

    This looks fun. I’ve made paneer. I wouldn’t mind stretching my cheesemaking abilities.

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  46. Amy wrote:

    Hi Kathy – I don’t need to be included in the giveaway, homemade cheese is probably too ambitious for me right now. Just loved the post, though. It totally reminded me of my trial and error (and error and error – lol) with bread making. Everyone says it’s incredibly easy, but it took me so many times to figure out the yeast and rising. I think I made 5 batches of hockey pucks.

    You’re right – I’m surprised you haven’t attempted making fresh cheese in the past. Seems right up your alley. Anyway, I’d say your mozzarella looks great! It makes me want some right now, so there you go.

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  47. Lisa Garnett wrote:

    Fresh mozzarella on pizza is the best. I also like to eat it marinated in olive oil and herbs.

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  48. Marissa wrote:

    I know this is completely unoriginal, but it has to be on pizza. Where I live now (Israel) they don’t use real mozzarella on pizza, they use some cheaper cheese called Emek. It’s gross. One of my must have foods when ever I head back to NY is pizza!!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  49. Jenni wrote:

    We tried your recipe for peach caprese the other night for dinner- it was fantastic! It’s definitely one of our new favorites, thank you so much for inspiring our family to try new taste combinations and flavors! 🙂

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  50. I love mozzarella …especially freshly sliced thin on a pizza topped with basil leaves.

    great giveaway…thanks!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  51. Anne wrote:

    To me, nothing is better than mozzerella sliced with tomatoes and basil fresh from the garden. Tastes like summer!!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  52. julie wrote:

    Mmmmmmm…. simple panini with fresh mozza and pesto (or olive tapenape)! Mmmmmm….

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  53. Laurie Blackshear wrote:

    Having never enjoyed fresh mozzarella, I cannot say what my favorite dish would be but I am intrigued by the thought!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  54. Annie wrote:

    I love stuffing the fresh mozzarella inside of a burger patty before I cook it. The cheese gets melty and gooey and delicious.

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  55. Joanne wrote:

    Whoa this is too awesome of a giveaway! My favorite mozzarella recipe is a simple caprese salad…it really lets the cheese shine through.

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  56. Elizabeth wrote:

    In this heat, it has to be caprese salad!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  57. April in CT wrote:

    My favorite is definitely homemade pizza!!!!! That kit is AWESOME!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  58. Diane wrote:

    Mozzarella, fresh tomato and basil with either a little olive oi. or balsamic vinegar and fresh ground black pepper!! yummy!!!

    Posted 7.13.10 Reply
  59. Martha wrote:

    My favorite dish that uses fresh mozzarella would have to be pizza. Mmmm, makes me hungry just thinking about it!

    Posted 7.14.10 Reply
  60. Chris wrote:

    Caprese Salad! My fav

    Posted 7.14.10 Reply
  61. Sharon wrote:

    It’s so difficult to choose a favorite…home made pizza or calzones…
    I panini with garden fresh tomatoes and basil…
    or just as an antipasto …

    Posted 7.14.10 Reply
  62. Michael O'Neill wrote:

    you inspired me. I bought rennet and lemon juice. It did not come out looking as pretty as yours. Next time, I am going to try smoking it in my smoker. My favorite recipe with mozzarella is with sliced squid (3 lb block, but fresh is incomparable though tedious to clean & skin, and messy, just like other pleasures, onion, smallish chunks of mozzarella, chopped celery, whole garlic, sprigs of rosemary, buckets of fresh parsley, finely diced whole lemon–skin, pith and bones, but flick out seeds. let seep in vinaigrette of 1 part lemon juice, 2 parts vinager & olive oil doesn’t need to be virgin or extra virgin or even virtuous, or another oil like canola, all to cover & let meld for a week (I have never been able to wait that long.) Some, not as pure as myself add basil, just because it is holy. S & P. alot as it is served cold. It will last for 9 or 10 months in frig if you keep adding oil to make sure it is covered, but I assure it will never last that long. Be forewarned people will throw themselves at you, offer their dowries, commit hari-kari for you after serving them this spritly, summery salad, tasting of the sea. Urge them not to –mo

    Posted 7.14.10 Reply
  63. Amy W wrote:

    Favorite dish? I usually just cut it into chunks and eat it by itself!!
    Though topping bruschetta with it is a not so close second. 🙂

    Posted 7.14.10 Reply
  64. dani wrote:

    diy is always so much better than buying something off the shelf

    u go girl!

    Posted 7.14.10 Reply
  65. dani wrote:

    my fave mozza recipe would have to be a good ol`mozza burger topped with ooeey gooeey melted mozza cheese 🙂

    Posted 7.14.10 Reply
  66. Cheryl Ross wrote:

    I’m a pizaholic, but since you’re asking during the summer, I have to say Caprese Salad.

    Posted 7.14.10 Reply
  67. grace wrote:

    sadly, this gal has never tasted fresh mozzarella. wow–i’m ashamed to admit that!

    Posted 7.14.10 Reply
  68. Tania Papp wrote:

    My perfect mozzarella dish is just mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil with some salt and black pepper. I serve it in little cubes with toth sticks.

    Posted 7.14.10 Reply
  69. Jen B wrote:

    I’ve been wanting to try this forever!!!!!
    favorite dish with fresh mozzerella…. real homemade chicken parm!!!!

    thanks for the post/inspiration & the give away…
    good luck everyone!

    Posted 7.14.10 Reply
  70. Rebekah wrote:

    Caprese salad! Yum!

    Posted 7.15.10 Reply
  71. Sarah wrote:

    I recently made a grilled pizza using fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh spinach from the garden, a few sliced grape tomatoes along with sauce and spices. It was the best pizza that came off my grill so far.

    Posted 7.15.10 Reply
  72. Ellen C. wrote:

    I love to make pizza with fresh mozzerella and sausage. Thanks for the chance.

    Posted 7.15.10 Reply
  73. tahtimbo wrote:

    I would have to say that my favorite way to use fresh mozzarella cheese would be in an inside-out burger. Of course, I have to add bacon, too 🙂

    Posted 7.15.10 Reply
  74. Ellen wrote:

    hands down, my favorite would be a pizza margherita. actually, its not just my favorite for fresh mozz, it’s my favorite food!

    Posted 7.15.10 Reply
  75. Carrie wrote:

    That kit is so cute! My favorite way is just eat the cheese alone – maybe with some baguette slices and salt and pepper. I have have made fresh mozzarella before and had good luck using a combination of 1 gallon skim milk mixed with 1 pint heavy or whipping cream. It simulates non-homogenized milk which is difficult or impossible to find nowadays.

    Posted 7.16.10 Reply
  76. Carri wrote:

    Just found your site. Very cool!

    We are on a gnocchi kick at my house currently. Would probably mix a little sun-dried tomato tapenade with it, add some Kalamatas, cubed mozzarella and fresh basil and call it a day!

    Posted 7.16.10 Reply
  77. Stephanie C wrote:

    on crusty bread with tomatoes, basil and a little marinara baked until hot and gooey. Yum!

    Posted 7.16.10 Reply
  78. Virginia wrote:

    nothing like a homemade pizza crust with freshly sliced tomatoes, homemade mozzarella, and basil! Num num num!

    Posted 7.16.10 Reply
  79. Marie wrote:

    Has to be insalata caprese! Although I did have a really fabulous tomato couscous with fresh mozzarella a few years ago.

    Posted 7.16.10 Reply
  80. Ingrid wrote:

    Love homemade pizza but now this will make it even better!

    Posted 7.18.10 Reply
  81. Susan John wrote:

    Caprese salad is my #1 , but I’ve been wanting to try the Rosemary Mozzarella Skewers from the Pioneer Woman.

    Posted 7.18.10 Reply
  82. Sherrie Cahoon wrote:

    What could be better than warm tomato straight from the garden, fresh picked basil and mozarella on top of crisp grilled baguette slices drizzled with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled with oregano??? Sublime!

    Posted 7.18.10 Reply
  83. I would love to try this! We really like homemade rigatoni with melted mozzarella! YUM!

    Posted 7.18.10 Reply
  84. Kitty wrote:

    I love Lasagna with good mozzarella. The cheese you made looks divine!

    Posted 7.19.10 Reply
  85. Erin wrote:

    I bought this kit for my grandmother one year for Christmas and I don’t think she ever used it. I keep meaning to “steal” it back 🙂 Perhaps if I win this one though I wont have to!

    Posted 7.19.10 Reply
  86. Sheri wrote:

    I would love to try making my own mozzarella!

    Posted 7.19.10 Reply
  87. Rebecca wrote:

    I have always wanted to make my own cheese. Too bad I missed you giveaway!

    Posted 8.9.10 Reply