Cheesepalooza Challenge Four: Traditional or Junket Mozzarella

From Artisan Cheese Making at Home, Chapter 3, page 75 or 80

Addie, Ian and I got together last weekend to make Mary’s Junket Mozzarella recipe. I really wanted to make the Traditional Mozzarella recipe, but it takes hours and hours, so we opted to go for the shorter recipe. Though Addie and I both had rennet tablets, they were not Junket Tablets. Ian was very careful to explain the difference to us and converted the amount of liquid rennet needed for the recipe: 1/2 teaspoon.

The New England Cheesmaking Supply Company makes the difference between rennet tablets and Junket rennet tablets very clear:

Cheese rennet is 80% chymosin and 20% pepsin. Junket is 80% pepsin, so it is much weaker than cheese rennet. Even if you use more of it to compensate for this, there is so much pepsin in junket that it increases protein breakdown to the point where there are problems when the cheese ages.Junket was made for custards. If you read the label, you will see that there are many additives in it. In spite of this, and despite the price of junket (not inexpensive), there are many recipes online for making cheese with junket. We think this originated when supplies were hard to find for home cheese making. Now that they are widely available, there is less reason to use junket. “

Ian’s cheese making is completely portable. Not without effort! He lugs in a few very heavy plastic tubs, but then he is completely independent, stove and all! (I saw induction burners at Costco last week: just sayin’!) He used regular pasteurized mega store milk with cream for this recipe. For the thirty minute Mozzarella, I have consistently used Vital Greens 2% and have had great success the last couple of times, but this time I purchased the Vital Greens whole milk to follow Mary’s recipe to the “T”.  Here is a photo of my thirty minute Mozza with black Hawaiian salt and oven dried preserved tomatoes. If you choose to make this recipe, that is also an option, but try to do one of Mary’s, as well, as it will definitely push your cheese making ability.

Addie has written about his mozzarella making experience here.

Ian has written about his mozzarella making experience here.

Deb: has written about her mozzarella making experience here (remember, she taught me how!).

Addie and I set up our stations and each took a portion of the stove top. I am green and he is orange on this day. We have matching thermometers that we purchased together at Bosch and love!

I was so surprised to read the recipe and see there were only 2 ingredients: rennet and vinegar. The 30 minute recipe uses citric acid, but the vinegar worked and though we worried that it would affect the flavour of the final product, it did not, at all.

In Ian’s words, his milk “channeled” during the hour the milk sat while the curds formed a solid mass.

There was clearly a clean break when he cut through the curd, so though it looked “too curdled”, it also appeared to be “good to go”! Mine and Addie’s had the little “floaties” on top as described in the recipe “a few small curds may be floating on the top of the yellow whey”. When we had a clean break, we cut the mass into half inch curds. I used a larger paddle to hold the mass in place as it moved all over the place when I was slicing the curds.

Ian was a bit ahead of Addie and I. To the left is how his curd looked after stirring the curd and heating the whey. In the middle is how it looked after he worked out the whey. Addie’s curds are to the right after he worked out the whey. This is the point where we became concerned for Ian about his product. Why his curd seemed to almost dissolve was a mystery. Below, Ian’s curd just before he started working they whey out of it.

Above, left is my curd before stirring as the whey heated and to the right is the curd after stirring as the whey heated. Below is Ian’s curd.

Above, is my curd after working the whey out of it.

The curds were wrapped in butter muslin and pressed on a wooden board and then I unwrapped for a photo: Addie’s, mine, and Ian’s. You can see that Addie’s and mine were already a clustered cerebral mass. Though Ian’s was wetter, it looked like there was a very good possibility it would stretch. In retrospect, it probably should have been placed in a mould at this point. We didn’t discuss it at the time, and hind sight is always “smart”.

Ian is kneading the cheese in his spoon, but it just would not stretch. I couldn’t get the cheese hot enough to get a smooth stretch. I actually threw chunks on the counter to knead them and then reheated for the stretching. This worked to a certain extent, but the cheese was still not smooth and elastic during the stretching like it has been for me before, or like it needed to be. The first little bit I worked and worked and knew I would have a very hard cheese good for grating; I formed it into a braid. The second little ball was worked less, but was still not soft. The larger bunch that I kneaded and stretched together wasn’t stretched enough as it wasn’t elastic enough (not hot enough) but I just stopped to get a tender cheese. That one was absolutely delicious immediately after being made: stellar!

Mary’s instructions say to slice the mass and heat it in the whey, knead it and stretch it. The slicing worked to get the cheese heated through to be stretchable, but it was hard not to loose it in the pot.

Above are my cheese boules. I did use 6 litres of milk while Addie and Ian used 4. Below are Addie’s. Sadly, Ian experienced a very rare failure. Apparently, Ian has a Mozzarella Hex, but has been successful and you will need to read about that on his site!

You can see the difference in my cheeses, below. The more you work the cheese, the harder it will be and the cross sections of my cheeses makes this very clear!

While I love making cheese, and especially with these two fellows, this was not a really fun day. No one wants to see anyone without a product, and none of the products were stellar. My bigger boule was really soft and very delicious immediately after it was made, but it was “bleeding whey” for some odd reason. I maybe didn’t shock it enough in the cold water at the end. The next day, it was still very tasty, but not even close to the soft lovely texture of my 30 Minute mozzarella success. It was a lovely sliced cheese.

So, you can see, you are in for a ride this month! My goal is to make bocconcini. Not like Mary’s, but little round soft saltless balls that melt on the tongue, so I am very eager to read about each of your experiences!

Let’s Make Cheese!

The Task:

If you have made it before, we challenge you to please do it again, “Mary’s way”, link to your other mozza making experiences, debriefing them all. If you don’t care to do this, just send me the link to your “old”  post with the deets so I can include it in the round up. Hopefully, you will be motivated to attempt some of the alternate cheeses!

Let us know what you think. Which recipe works best for your palate and your locality?

Read the recipe a few times, take lots of photos and notes as you go, and write about your experience.

IMPT: If you choose to use a different recipe, or process, please just explain why so we can learn together. I want to make more Halloumi, but using the more traditional method next time, and cow’s milk feta is also on my list for the future.

When you are finished:

Please send me the following deets once you are done, and the same deets for any Chapter Two optional recipes as I will also be posting a Chapter Two Optional Recipe Post at the end of this week.

  • Name
  • Post URL
  • Where you are from
  • photo 900 x 600 pixels (this is a change)

Optional Recipes to add value to your third month (if you choose):

Here are a couple of  other recipes in Chapter two we suggest you explore and share through the month, if you want to make more than one of these recipes:

  • Burrata, Queso Oaxca, Bocconcini
  • Real Ricotta with Whey!
  • Junket Mozzarella
  • Braided String Cheese
  • Bread Cheese

Please include simple Tasting Notes at the bottom of each post so we can have a frame of reference to understand your cheese a bit better:

Tasting Notes:

  • Appearance:
  • Nose (aroma):
  • Overall Taste:
  • Sweet to Salty:
  • Mild (mellow) to Robust to Pungent (stinky):
  • Mouth Feel: (gritty, sandy, chewy, greasy, gummy, etc.):

To read about each of our Feta or Halloumi Making Experiences:

  • Deb: has been in the process of moving all month and had to bow out of this one. We missed her at our tasting, too!

Local Challenge Three and Four Tasting: Friday November 23

Please RSVP with number coming (one or two) and what you will be bringing!



  1. says

    I am so envious that you can all get together to make cheese, it looks like such fun, even if the results weren’t as you hoped! Mozzarella was the first cheese I ever made as I read somewhere that it was a good starter cheese, but they lied, and it is also my nemesis so I will be giving it another go this month, hopefully with more success! And if it is successful I would LOVE to make some Burrata. Bring on November cheese making!

  2. says

    Looking forward to this challenge! J loves bocconcini so we will have to try that too, and string cheese as it is traditional product from wife’s heritage (plus my mother in law will be very pleased if we pull it off).

    • Valerie Lugonja says

      HI, El!
      I know! And cleaning up after a session can be fairly time consuming, but I am just thankful to have this much space as it is that much fun!

  3. says

    I wish I could get involved in this, Valerie, but I’m moving and it’s all I can do to eat a normal meal!’
    Sorry this effort was not a success. but try, try again. I love reading about your cheese-making.

  4. says

    I admire you all so much: you are so organized and precise and good at taking photos. I am all over the place when I make cheese and the last thing I think of is bringing the camera in the kitchen. I have made the 30 minute mozzarella and also the cultured one. Pasta filata cheeses are definitely fun to make, though also challenging. My plan is to try to make caciocavallo one of these days, when my schedule quiets down a bit. Always ready to talk about real ricotta, so we’ll see if I find time to write a post on that. Good luck everybody!

    • Valerie Lugonja says

      Wonderful to hear your ideas, Simona!
      Have you a recipe for bocconcini… I realize this can mean different things to different people – but I am talking about the small, white, pillow balls of very young tender cheese that has a mozza type exterior.

  5. says

    This is incredible! I smiled when I read that u too were eyeing the Induction stove burners at Costco – so was I! This love for cheese and devotion is staggering Val. And so great that you have a cheese making pal who is just as devoted and get’s it.

    Keep this going Val because I’m so not there yet and I’m going to have to just appreciate your efforts for now :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  6. says

    I love your cheese posts! I’m very impressed with Ian’s portable cheese-making system (although I suppose the word “portable” should be in quotes 😉 ). Too bad about the rare cheese failure :( I’m glad the vinegar worked well without flavoring the cheese!

  7. says

    O yay!! Mozzarella! I kind of missed this post a bit as I’m pretty much behind in reading. Did you get my mail with the missing halloumi post? 😉 I hope I can squeeze in making the mozzarella too!

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