How to Make Mozzarella Cheese- (Part Two: Let’s Do It!)

mozzarella recipe

We’re making mozzarella today- are ya ready? I’m assuming you’ve read Part One where we discuss all the preliminary stuff, (like ingredients and equipment), so let’s dive in!

*A Note to All Aspiring Cheesemakers* I want to give fair warning before we start. Cheesemaking is fun, but it is also finicky sometimes. So, you can’t get discouraged if this is your first batch and it doesn’t turn out… It’s a learning process! The first few times you attempt to make cheese, you’ll probably be sweating and reading the recipe a million times before starting. But trust me- the more you do it, the easier it becomes, and soon you’ll be making mozzarella in your sleep. Practice truly does make perfect!

(This post is very picture-heavy, so it may take a bit for it to load.)

How to Make Traditional Mozzarella Cheese


(Detailed info on ingredient options can be found here)

  • 2 gallons of high-quality milk (I always use my raw milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of thermophilic starter culture
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon of double strength liquid rennet dissolved in 1/4 cup of unchlorinated water
  • 1/4 teaspoon lipase powder, dissolved in 1/4 cup of unchlorinated water

Important: With most recipes, I’m pretty laid-back and adventurous with times, temperatures, and measurements. However, cheese is one thing that you can’t really improvise too much on, so it’s best to follow the instructions as closely as possible.

how to make mozzarella

Pour the milk into a large stock pot and slowly heat it to around 90-95 degrees F. Or, if you just finished milking and the milk is still warm from the animal, you can skip this step, since it will already be sufficiently warm. (I did this the other day, and it made a gorgeous batch of cheese.)

how to make mozzarella

While the milk is heating, prepare your rennet and lipase by dissolving them both into 1/4 cup each of cool, unchlorinated water.

traditional mozzarella

Sprinkle the Thermophilic culture on top of the warm milk, and gently stir in. Then gently stir in the lipase powder/water mixture.

how to make mozzarella

Cover the pot with a lid, and allow it to sit undisturbed for 45 minutes, keeping it at 90 degrees the entire time. This is called the “ripening” phase.

(Depending on the heat of your house and the milk, you may or may not need to turn the burner on and off for brief periods to maintain the temp. During the summer, it’s usually fine as-is, though in the winter time, it needs a little help staying at 90 degrees. I sometimes wrap it in a towel to help insulate it.)

how to make mozzarella

Next, gently stir in the rennet/water mixture- this is going to coagulate the milk. Replace the lid and allow it to sit for 60 minutes at 90 degrees F. (See why the timer comes in handy?)

Now the fun begins. You are looking for something called a “clean break.”

I had a hard time getting a good pic of this...
I had a hard time getting a good pic of this…

This is when the milk has coagulated and is forming a curd. You want to be able to stick your knife in the middle of the pot and see a “slice” in the curd, with a bit of whey filling up the indentation.

If you don’t have a clean break yet, leave the pot for another 30-60 minutes. If your milk is still entirely “milky” at this point and not thickened at all, you might be able to salvage it by adding a bit more rennet and allowing it to sit at 90 degrees for another hour or so.

Once you’ve reached the clean break stage, you get to cut the curd (this is kinda fun).

how to make mozzarella

Grab a long, thin knife and make a checkerboard pattern in the pot, cutting all the way down to the bottom. You want the cubes to be about 1/2″ square, although I most certainly do NOT get out my ruler and measure…

Let your checkerboard curds sit for another 30 minutes. During this time, you’ll see the curds and whey begin to separate even more.

Use a slotted spoon to gently stir the curds, and cut up any curds that are too long (the reason behind cutting them into cubes is so they will release whey and begin to firm up). They will feel very soft and fluffy at this point.

After stirring the curd- it's very soft at this point.
After stirring the curd- it’s very soft at this point.

Now, to encourage the release of more whey, they must be gently heated. We want them up to 100 degrees, but this needs to happen gradually, over the course of about 30 minutes.

You can do this by sticking your pot in a sink of hot water, but I’ve found that method to be cumbersome. So, I prefer to use my stove burner to add a bit of heat. I’ll turn it on and stir the curds gently to prevent hot spots, and then I’ll turn it back off. (The key is to NOT forget and leave the burner on accidentally… *ahem)

As the curds are slowly heated, they begin to firm up as more whey is released.
As the curds are slowly heated, they begin to firm up as more whey is released.

Once you’ve reached 100 degrees, let them sit another 10 minutes to settle, and then drain the majority of the whey out of the pot.

I use a coffee filter set-up, similiar to my milk-straining set up, to strain out most of the whey.

traditional mozzarella recipe

Set the whey aside, and let the clump of curds acidify in the pot at 100 degrees for about 3 hours. Check the temperature every half hour, and flip them over to ensure even heating.

The acidification process is very important, as this is what will enable us to stretch the cheese successfully.

As the hours progress, more and more whey will be released (you can continue to drain it off), and the clump of curds will knit together and become a solid mass.

The knitted curds
The knitted curds

Now we are ready to stretch!

mozzarella recipe

Pull the curd clump out of the pot and cut it into roughly 1″ cubes. Pour some of the reserved whey back into the pot and heat it to 170 F. (Don’t use all the whey, as it’ll take forever to heat up. Some folks use water for the stretching process, but I prefer to use the whey, as I think it adds a touch more flavor.)

Put on your rubber kitchen gloves, and place half of the curd cubes into the hot whey. (Dividing them into two batches makes them easier to handle.)

Now, this part is a little painful, so you have to be tough. 😉 That whey is hot, and while the gloves offer some protection, you’ll still feel the burn a bit.

Allow the cubes to sit in the hot whey for several minutes. If you grab one, it should start to stretch and feel smooshy. Use a long spoon to swish the cubes around in the hot whey– it’ll save your hands a little bit. After a minute or two, the cubes should start to want to stick together. Encourage them to from a lump and start gently pressing them together in your hand. Once you have all of them, begin to gently work the curd and stretch it out.

mozzarella recipe
This batch had a lot of stretch! (And it’s really hard to take pictures of stretching cheese WHILE stretching said cheese…)

This is the best part of the whole process. 😉 The amount of stretch you get depends on that particular batch, but even a little stretch is better than no stretch at all.

If during the stretching process the cheese begins to break, stick it back into the hot whey and let it heat up a little more.

Stretch out the cheese about 10 times, and then form it into a ball. Repeat with the second half of the curds.

mozzarella recipe

Plop it into a bowl of cold water to cool it down and help it to hold its shape. (Instead of just plain cold water, you could also make a salt water brine for added flavor).

Allow the cheese to sit in the water for about 60 minutes, then wrap it tightly and store it in the fridge or freezer. (Or eat it immediately for a delicious snack- there is nothing like fresh mozzarella.)

*About Failed Batches* If your cheese didn’t turn out quite right, don’t throw it away!Even crumbly, non-stretchable curd is still great in filled pastas, casseroles, or on salads. There’s no need to toss it.

The Condensed Version

Whew! I bet your head is spinning right about now, huh? Here the the streamlined-version of the whole process:

How to Make Mozzarella Cheese


  • 2 gallons high-quality milk (I use my raw milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of thermophilic starter culture
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon of double strength liquid rennet dissolved in 1/4 cup unchlorinated water
  • 1/4 teaspoon lipase powder, dissolved in 1/4 cup unchlorinated water


  1. Heat milk to around 90 degrees F
  2. Add thermophilic culture and lipase powder
  3. Stir and let this ripen at 90 degrees for 45 minutes
  4. Gently stir in rennet and let sit at 90 degrees for one hour
  5. Cut the curds into 1/2" cubes, then let rest 30 minutes
  6. Gently stir and break up curds, then slowly heat to 100 degrees over the course of 30 minutes
  7. Let rest 10 minutes
  8. Drain excess whey, allow curds to acidify at 100 degrees for 3 hours, flipping every half hour
  9. Cut the knitted curds into 1" cubes
  10. Heat and stretch the cubes in 170 degree whey, until you can form a shiny ball
  11. Cool finished cheese in cold water or salt water brine for one hour
  12. Store in fridge or freezer


mozzarella recipe

I know the whole process sounds super complicated at first glance, but I PROMISE it gets easier and easier the more you do it. Soon, you’ll find yourself making mozzarella in your sleep. And once you taste fresh homemade mozzarella, you’ll agree that it’s totally worth the effort.

Happy cheesemaking!

This post was shared at Frugal Days Sustainable Ways

How to Make Mozzarella Cheese- (Part One: Getting Ready)

mozzarella recipe

I’ve been promising ya’ll a mozzarella recipe for a while now and it’s finally here!

I don’t consider myself to be an expert cheesemaker, by any means. BUT, I have had considerable success with mozzarella (and having a milk cow gives me plenty of milk to practice with…)

There are a million-and-one mozzarella recipes out there, including ones that use microwaves and citric acid as short-cuts.

But, I have personally settled on this traditional-style method because it consistently gives me an end result with good taste and good texture.

I’ve tried the citric-acid recipes, but I never cared for the results (it would always release a lot of whey on my pizza, and leave me with soggy crust…). And the microwave recipes are quick, but the thought of using a microwave on beautiful raw milk makes me cringe…

This recipe basically takes all day, from start-to-finish. Now, before you say “No way!”, keep in mind that you don’t have to be in the kitchen all day— there are just a lot of waiting periods– so if you have a timer that you can carry with you, you can definitely still head outside to work in the garden or barn during the cheesemaking process.

Trust me, I have a crazy-busy life, and I wouldn’t be choosing the option that takes longer unless I thought it was worth it. 😉

Why Make Homemade Mozzarella?

So, why go to all the trouble of making mozzarella at home? Here are my top 4 reasons:

1. It taste sooo much better than the stuff at the store. The bargain-brand mozzarella you find at supermarkets pretty much tastes like cardboard to me… Of course, you can spring for a higher-quality brand, but expect to pay considerably more.

2. It’s (mostly) raw. Well, as raw as mozzarella can be, I guess. You won’t be heating the milk or curds past 100 degrees with this recipe. However, during the stretching process, you will be dipping the curds in hot liquid which effects the ‘rawness’ a bit. However, I’m thinkin’ it’s still way better than the mozzarella made with totally pasteurized skim milk at the grocery store. (Here’s why raw milk is important to me, in case you were wondering.)

3. It uses up lots of milk. If you have your own dairy animals, this is a really, really good thing. When I’m drowning in milk, I make a double batch of mozzarella, which uses up 4 gallons of milk.

4. It freezes well. Make a bunch of mozz when you’re swimming in milk and freeze it for the times when your animals are dry.

About the Ingredients

This mozzarella technique requires that 3 ingredients be added to the milk. If you have already ventured into cheesemaking, you might already have these in your fridge or freezer:

homemade mozzarella

Thermophilic Starter Culture– This is what will culture the milk. I get mine from Cultures for Health. I like the direct-set variety- just because I don’t have time to propogate cultures.

Rennet– I get the double-strength vegetable rennet from Cultures for Health. There are many varieties of rennet available- tablets or regular strength rennet is ok too– but steer clear of the “Junket” stuff at the grocery store.

Lipase– I also get this from Cultures for Health (I get the Mild Calf Lipase). This is a totally optional ingredient, but I like to use it since it gives the cheese more depth of flavor. And I figure if I am going to all the trouble of making homemade mozzarella, it might as well taste as good as possible.

Milk— I use my raw cow milk, but goat milk will work as well. You can use pasteurized milk if you must, but try to purchase the most high-quality, whole milk that you can afford. Sometimes I lightly skim the cream from my gallons of raw milk (if I happen to be low on cream), but otherwise, I like to use full-fat milk since it gives the best flavor.

how to make mozzarella

Gather your Equipment

Thankfully, you don’t need a whole lot of special equipment to make cheese at home. Here is a quick list:

  • A large stockpot with a lid (a 2 or 3 gallon one is ideal)
  • A thermometer (I use a meat thermometer, since I tend to break the glass, candy-style ones…)
  • A long, thin knife to cut the curd (I use our wedding-cake knife, actually. It’s horrible for cutting bread, but great for cutting curds)
  • A timer- preferably the portable kind. Or, use the timer feature on your cell phone.
  • Big jars or pitchers to capture the excess whey
  • Clean rubber kitchen gloves. (Get a designated set for your cheesemaking– don’t use the ones you put on to scrub the toilet, please.)

Make sure all of your equipment is extra clean, since this will be a sorta-raw cheese.

Click here for PART TWO—->

This post contains affiliate links.



You Can’t Do it All- 5 Tips for Staying Sane as You Homestead

homesteading self sufficiency

I had a rather stunning revelation the other day.

I realized that I can’t do it all. For real.

And to be honest, I don’t really like saying that out loud…. But it’s true.

It was during a moment of stressful frustration the other day that a lightbulb came on. I mean, yeah, we all say “I know I can’t do it all,” but secretly, I still thought I could. And that thought was causing me to get very grouchy…

I had to laugh at myself when I took a step back and looked at the demands I was placing on myself…

I was expecting myself to:

  • Have perfectly home-cooked meals every single day,
  • Milk a cow every day and then make all our own dairy products with the extra milk,
  • Can and preserve everything in sight,
  • Have a perfectly manicured yard and garden,
  • Ride my horses on a daily basis,
  • Run a very busy blog and essential oil team,
  • Keep a super clean and perfectly decorated house,
  • And, oh yeah, keep my family (which includes 2 very small children) in one piece in the process.

That’s crazy talk folks!

As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I came to the (very obvious) realization that it’s pretty much impossible for one person to do all of those things. No wonder I was feeling stressed!

I’m making some changes this summer, and I want to share them with you, since I know I’m not the only one who gets overwhelmed in their homesteading adventures.

5 Tips to Help You Homestead Without Going Crazy

1. Make a List

I know, this one seems so obvious– but it’s soooo important! It’s so easy to feel crazy and overwhelmed when you have a million “to-dos” swirling around in your head. I can feel the pressure lift instantly as soon as I write things down. There is just something about seeing the tasks in a nice little row that makes them more attainable, I think. (And, you get the added pleasure of crossing them off!)

Make a daily list, make a weekly list, make a seasonal list, and make a yearly list. Or, pick and choose what fits your style best… But regardless, make a list!

2. Prioritize

This one goes hand-in-hand with the list… I often let less-important projects stress me out, when they really don’t need to. Yeah, I might *think* I neeeeed to get my new DIY project finished so it can adorn the walls of my living room, but honestly– does it really *have* to be done this week? Probably not.

Pick the projects or tasks that are most-pressing in the current season, and don’t sweat the rest. (And don’t forget– family always comes first!)

Our big summer project: Dismantling some old pheasant pens and building corrals in their place
Our big summer project: Dismantling some old pheasant pens and building corrals in their place. Fun, eh?

3. Cut it Out!

Feeling especially bogged down? Look at your list and get brutally honest– does that task REALLY need to be done right this second? If the answer is no, then get rid of it!

Now– this was a tough one for me at first… I kept looking at my list and thinking, “Everything on there HAS to be done! I can’t drop anything!” But it was then that I realized that I was placing silly expectations on myself…

Homemade laundry detergent is nice, but when I’m already running around like a crazy person, it’s ok to buy some detergent at the store when I make a trip to town. (And that’s exactly what I’m doing this summer…)

You have to cut yourself some slack every once and a while. What would your kiddos rather have? Clothes washed in homemade detergent, or a happy mama with extra time to play?

(Yes, I realize that DIY laundry soap isn’t difficult to make– but it still feels good to have one less thing to do…)

4. Outsource

Let me tell ya– I am a rabid DIY-er. I LOVE to do everything myself. Everything.

But you know what? After a certain point, that just doesn’t work. And it’s perfectly ok to outsource some of our tasks to qualified folks.

This has been especially true for me as this blog has grown… It started out as a just-for-fun hobby, but over the past year it has morphed into an actual business. I absolutely love working on the blog, but it takes a lot of time. And my time is better spent working on posts like this one, insteading of pulling my hair out trying to fix the HTML codes on my site. (Which is why I used the blog-helper services of Lisa Morosky at The Home Life and Me this week to help with some behind the scenes stuff. She tweaked code while I was outside working. And it was heavenly folks!)

This is hard for me to admit, but we just picked up our home-raised steer from the butcher shop. Yes, I really, really enjoy cutting up our own meat. But, this spring was insanely busy, and the steer needed to be taken care of right away. Hubby and I made the decision to send him to the butcher, and it was a huge weight lifted off of our shoulders.

Will we be butchering our other animals ourselves? You bet! But for this current season, the local butcher shop is a wonderful resource to have, and the butchering fee was worth every penny.

Playing on the manure pile...
Playing on the manure pile…

5. Let Go of Perfect 

Hello, my name is Jill and I’m a recovering perfectionist.

Homesteading is slowly breaking me of my perfectionist tendencies, and I think it’s a good thing– because when you have as many irons in the fire as I do, it is absolutely impossible to have all aspects of your life be perfect.

I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that my “lawn” and yard is NOT going to be perfectly manicured all the time, and my floors will always, ALWAYS have smudges and dog prints on them. And ya know what? That’s ok! (And who really cares anyway?!)

Let go of those “perfect” expectations. Perfect is over-rated anyway. 😉

The Changes I’ve Made so Far

  • I’m outsourcing as much as possible— this includes blog design work, as well as things like the butchering of our steer this spring.
  • I’m simplifying my garden. As much as I would like to plant a billion different heirloom varieties, I’ve decided to stick with our tried-and-true favorites (potatoes, beans, onions, peas, pumpkins, etc). The fancy gardening can come later when the Prairie Kids are older.
  • I’m skipping the DIY laundry soap and shampoo bars this summer and sticking with natural, store-bought alternatives. I’ll definitely make those things again in a different season, but not right now.
  • I’m sticking with basic meals this summer— even if it means buying a loaf of store-bought bread every once and a while.

Will my entire summer be stress-free? Most certainly not. But I’m making steps in the right direction, and that feels good. :)

Share in the comments: How do you simplify your life as a homesteader?



20 Essential Oil Recipes for Your Diffuser

essential oil recipes for diffusers

I’ve officially broken-up with my candle collection.

I used to be a complete candle-addict, but my candles have collected a lot of dust since my first essential oil diffuser arrived last year.

Diffusing essential oils not only makes my home smell nice, but they also can provide other health benefits as well. I have lost count of how many diffusers I currently have in my home

I always use cold-air diffusers, since anything that heats the oils can damage some of their beneficial properties.

I never use candle warmers or anything that might heat the oils too much. Cold air diffusers are the best way to preserve al the beneficial properties of your precious essential oils.

If you are new to essential oils, there’s no better way to get to know them than through your diffuser. Try a few of my top favorite essential oil recipes for your diffuser below to get you started!

essential oil recipes for diffusers

20 Essential Oil Recipes for your Diffuser

General Guidelines:

  • The following blends are meant to be used in a cold-air diffuser. These diffusers usually require a small amount of water to be added, along with the oils. (Usually around 70 mL)
  • Follow the manufacturers directions on your diffuser.
  • If you don’t have one of the oils called for in the recipe, you can still try the recipe without it.

1. Let’s Focus Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

This is a much-loved combo, and for good reason! It’s perfect to increase alertness, or when you need a quick pick-me-up.

  • 2 drops wild orange essential oil
  • 2 drops peppermint essential oil

2. Fresh and Clean Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

This blend is wonderful for creating a welcoming atmosphere in your home. It’s bright and fresh:

  • 2 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops lemon essential oil
  • 2 drops rosemary essential oil

3. Odor Eliminator Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

We are animal-people, and we’ve had our fair share of “incidences” in our house. Whenever this happens, I like to diffuse this blend. It freshens up the air in no time:

  • 2 drops lemon essential oil
  • 1 drop melaleuca essential oil
  • 1 drop cilantro essential oil
  • 1 drop lime essential oil

4. Seasonal Support Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

These three oils together are spectacular for helping to maintain clear breathing and a healthy immune response. I use this blend especially during the spring and summer months.

  • 2 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops lemon essential oil
  • 2 drops peppermint essential oil

5. Citrus Explosion Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

I love diffusing citrus blends when we have company coming over. It makes my house smell happy and clean.

  • 1 drop lemon essential oil
  • 2 drops wild orange essential oil
  • 1 drop lime essential oil
  • 1 drop grapefruit essential oil

6. Deep Breath Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

I tend to be a very high-energy person. The good part of that? I get a lot done. The bad part? I have a hard time settling down sometimes…

I adore this blend for the evenings when I’m trying to slow my brain down, and I also like to diffuse it in the bedroom as I fall asleep:

  • 1 drop bergamot essential oil
  • 1 drop patchouli essential oil
  • 1 drop ylang ylang essential oil

7. Respiratory Support Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

Use this blend to support respiratory function–especially during the winter months.

  • 1 drop lemon essential oil
  • 1 drop eucalyptus essential oil
  • 2 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 1 drop rosemary essential oil

8. Flower Garden Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

Want your home to smell like a flower garden in full bloom? Try this one:

  • 1 drop geranium essential oil
  • 2 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops roman chamomile essential oil

Click Here to Get Jill’s Free Essential Oil eBook >>

9. Man-Cave Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

I think this combo smells very masculine and woodsy… Although I enjoy it too.

  • 2 drops white first essential oil
  • 2 drops cypress essential oil
  • 2 drops wintergreen essential oil

10. Bug Repellent Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

This combo isn’t one that I’d necessarily wear as perfume, but it contains a collection of oils that most creepy-crawlies dislike:

  • 1 drop lemongrass essential oil
  • 1 drop thyme essential oil
  • 1 drop eucalyptus essential oil
  • 1 drop basil essential oil

11. Spiced Chai Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

Craving a cup of chai? Either make my homemade chai tea concentrate, or put this blend in your diffuser:

  • 3 drops cardamom essential oil
  • 2 drops cassia essential oil
  • 2 drops clove essential oil
  • 1 drop ginger essential oil

12. Spicey Citrus Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

What autumn should smell like.

  • 3 drops wild orange essential oil
  • 2 drops cinnamon bark essential oil
  • 1 drop clove essential oil

essential oil recipes for diffusers

13. Woodsy Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

Feeling like a walk in the woods, but stuck at home? Try this instead:

  • 3 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 2 drops white fir essential oil
  • 1 drop cedarwood essential oil

14. Immune Booster Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

A perfect option during cold and flu season:

  • 1 drop rosemary essential oil
  • 1 drop clove essential oil
  • 1 drop eucalyptus essential oil
  • 1 drop cinnamon bark essential oil
  • 1 drop wild orange essential oil

15. Anti-Stress Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

Feeling frazzled? This is one of my favorite combos:

  • 2 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 2 drops bergamot essential oil

16. G’Night Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

For a sweet night’s sleep:

  • 2 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops chamomile essential oil
  • 2 drops vetiver essential oil

(For more essential oils for better sleep, click HERE)

17. Candy Store Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

I don’t know why, but this one smells like candy. The kids love it, and it’ll make your house happy.

  • 2 drops wild orange essential oil
  • 2 drop wintergreen essential oil

18. Energize Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

Diffuse this one first thing in the morning for a big boost:

  • 2 drops wild orange essential oil
  • 2 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 2 drops cinnamon essential oil

19. Grounding Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

For those moments when everyone really needs to chill out:

  • 2 drops vetiver essential oil
  • 2 drops cedarwood essential oil

20. Happy Holiday Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe

  • 2 drops white fir
  • 2 drops wild orange
  • 1 drop wintergreen

Wondering Where to Get Essential Oils?

I have been using the same brand for 3+ years and love them. I’ll tell you all about them here.

Click Here to Get Jill’s Free Essential Oil eBook >>

Other Oily Posts:

essential oil recipes for diffusers

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. None of the information on this blog is intended to cure, treat, or heal any disease. Please use essential oils at your own risk with lots of common sense.*