If using lipase, dissolve it in 1/4 cup water, allow to sit for 15 minutes.
Pour milk into a large, very clean pan. Heat over medium, until it reaches 55F
While the milk is heating, dissolve citric acid in 1/4 cup of water, and rennet in another 1/4 cup of water. Keep the two (or three, if using lipase!) solutions straight – label if you have to!
Once cheese reaches 55F, stir in the citric acid solution. The milk will start to curdle a little.
Add lipase – if using – and stir well. Continue to heat milk, stirring often.
This is what the cheese will look like after a few minutes. Continue heating to 88F. When milk comes to 88F, add rennet solution and stir VERY well – be sure to use some up and down motions as well as “around”, to distribute the rennet!
Continue to heat to 105F, stirring gently. The curds will separate from the whey.
Between 100 and 105F, the liquid will no longer look milky – instead it will be clear and yellowish. When this happens, you’re ready for the next step!
This is ready.
Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove all of the curds from the whey, transferring it to a microwave safe bowl. Once all of the curd is transferred, press with a spoon to force out excess whey. Drain any whey visible in the bowl.
Microwave the curd for about a minute on high. If you don’t have a high pain tolerance, clean rubber gloves will come in handy for this next step.
GENTLY fold the curd over itself a few times, trying not to burn yourself. The idea is to distribute the heat, NOT to beat the life out of it.
I got a little nuts with it, and went into “fondant making” mode… which is why mine turned out less than smooth. Whoops! It still tasted awesome!
Microwave for another 30 seconds, drain whey, fold over a few more times. Repeat one more time, and add salt if you’re using it.
By this time, the cheese should be hot enough to stretch. Stretch and fold a few times – as if you were stretching taffy – until the cheese is smooth and shiny.
Once you’ve determined that either your cheese is smooth/shiny enough, or you’re just hungry and tired of burning your hands… do with it as you please. Pinch it into small balls, roll it in a log, or roll THREE logs and braid them, like we did.