Mozzarella without rennet
Mozzarella can be made without using rennet at all. It can be substituted with acid coagulants, such as vinegar, lemon juice, citric acid, lime, and so on. And you can make mozzarella with just 2 simple ingredients — milk and kitchen acids. There are a lot of tutorials on the web you can find. If that’s the animal rennet that worried you, you could try vegetable rennet or microbial rennet (which is labelled as ‘enzyme’). Mozzarella without rennet is an ideal cheese for vegetarians, vegans and those who want to avoid animal-derived products. But there are some downsides to it, which I explained more in another article if you’re interested.
Mozzarella without lactose
Mozzarella is a fresh-to-very-lightly aged cheese (a couple of weeks). The aging process will cause the lactose to break down by certain bacteria. Because of that, mozzarella tends to be a little bit higher in lactose compared to aged cheese like sharp cheddar — 1% higher on average — which still qualify as low. Depending on the production, mozzarella can have around 1-3% of lactose content in it which is up to 1 gram for each ounce. Some producers will adjust so that it’s lower than 1%, and claimed ‘virtually lactose-free’. Lactose is a natural part of the dairy, it’s milk sugar, so it’s hard to completely get rid of it.
If you have lactose intolerance, you should be able to enjoy mozzarella. Many brands are producing lactose-free mozzarella, or a better way to say, very very low in lactose. You can tell if it’s ‘lactose-free’ because it will be labelled so on the packaging.
Mozzarella without salt
Mozzarella can be made without using salt, it’s an optional ingredient. Fresh mozzarella, such as traditional European mozzarella, is often made without salt and can be used right away. Salt is added to the mozzarella for various reasons. It is to add more flavor and to preserve longer, commonly by soaking the cheese in salted brine water. Also, salt is sodium chloride, which will maintain a salt/water redox with the mozzarella if kept in brine so that it will have better physicochemical properties (texture, density, water solubility, etc) — in other words — to keep it as fresh as possible without looking sloppy or dry.
If you think it’s too salty for you, try to get a low-sodium mozzarella. Some brands are selling reduced sodium mozzarella, one that I know is Sargento but in shredded form.
Mozzarella without water
Mozzarella does not need to be in the water, there is low-moisture or shredded packaged mozzarella which is more convenient for us today. The mozzarella was originally an Italian fresh cheese in which the final step is to stretch & shape the hot mozzarella and drop it into the water to cool it down. That’s why it comes in liquid to retain moisture, shape and freshness. The liquid can be water, whey, or salted brine.
If you don’t want your mozzarella to be watery, which can be an issue if you want it to melt after. Dry it with a paper towel for 30 minutes before use. I have previously written a post about why mozzarella is stored in water, you may be interested to check it out.
Mozzarella without raw milk
Mozzarella can be made without using raw milk. Almost any milk can be used in making mozzarella. You can use pasteurized milk, part-skim but preferably full-fat whole milk. Avoid the Ultra High Temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk as high temperature will alter the milk protein structure which can be a problem in curdling. In some European countries, raw or thermized milk (using lower heat treatment) is the preferred option as it retains most of the flavor and nutrients.
Mozzarella without enzymes
Similar to ricotta and cottage cheese, mozzarella can be made without using enzymes or rennet. You can use natural sourings such as lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid to do the work. It’s also known as acid-curdled cheese. It will coagulate the milk to form curds, similar to how enzyme work but in a slightly different manner, and incomplete. The acid works by neutralizing the negative charges and making them stick to each other. It resulted in softer and less stretchable mozzarella cheese.
On top of that, by adding enzymes, they form stronger bonds with each other. The more bonded network form, the stretchier the mozzarella. I discussed more in another post about why mozzarella doesn’t stretch on pizza, here.