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Everyone's talking about healthy school lunches these days and one item I consistently notice being mentioned is string cheese.
And no wonder – cheese is a healthy cultured food, it's super-easy to toss in a lunch, and string cheese is just plain fun.
As with everything, however, you need to know what's IN your string cheese. String cheese is just mozzarella cheese that has been stretched a bit extra to make it stringy, but – like so many store-bought foods – many of the store-bought brands have fillers and preservatives.
It's still a far-cry better than many other store-bought snacks, so don't feel guilty about buying the store-bought version, but IF you'd like to make your own or you'd like to save a pretty penny (string cheese is notoriously expensive!), then this recipe is for you. <3
If you'd like to make it completely from scratch, see our How to Make Mozzarella post and at the end of the process, rather than forming balls, just take out small amounts and stretch them to form long ropes, which you can cut into “regular” size string cheese after it's cooled.
But for the sake of THIS recipe, we're going to take a shortcut, which only takes 5-10 minutes of hands-on time (more if you're making a larger batch).
For this recipe, all you need is water, salt, and shredded mozzarella cheese. If you can't find any pre-shredded cheese that doesn't have wood pulp (cellulose), which is used to keep the shreds from sticking together, just purchase a block or round of low-moisture (preferably full fat) mozzarella and shred it yourself. It's often cheaper this way, too, but it takes a few extra minutes, if it matters to you.
Here's to your healthy snacking and healthy lunch packing!
P.S. The best part of this recipe is that you don't even need to measure anything. This is not a recipe that requires scientific precision. Talk about easy!
- Any amount of shredded mozzarella
- A pot of salted, steaming (NOT boiling) water
- A pair of rubber gloves (optional, but HIGHLY recommended)
- A plate to hold finished string cheese sticks OR a bowl of ice water
- Dump the shredded mozzarella into the hot water and let it sit until it melts, 1-2 minutes. Be sure the water is NOT boiling!
- Pull out approximately 3 tablespoons of melted cheese with a fork or slotted spoon.
- With your hands, stretch the cheese as many times as possible until the cheese begins to harden, 10-15 seconds. The cheese will be extremely hot - rubber gloves will help significantly.
- Continue to stretch until the cheese turns glossy. At about this time, the cheese will begin to break instead of stretch. Fold or stretch the cheese to your desired length and roll or fold lengthwise to make into a stick and so at least one side of the string cheese is as smooth as possible.
- Place each finished string cheese on the plate and let them cool at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Alternatively, pop them into the ice water as you finish them until all string cheese sticks are completed. (I find string cheese made with part-skim mozzarella blocks tend to become dull in luster when finished in ice water, so I prefer to cool them slowly at room temperature.)
Homemade String Cheese Troubleshooting
If your string cheese has turned out rubbery
There are two things that can make string cheese rubbery:
1. If you used a “part skim” mozzarella ball, the fat content is lower than other mozzarella variations, which causes a drier texture. In some cases, this is preferable, such as on pizza, but with string cheese, you want a full-fat mozzarella if you can find it.
2. You kneaded the cheese after it began breaking. Handling it after this stage is fine, such as the rolling up as I describe above, but actively trying to knead the pieces together will toughen the shreds.
If your homemade string cheese doesn't pull apart into shreds
The more you pull and stretch the hot mozzarella before it begins to harden or break, the better its layers (by cary at dresshead inc). If yours doesn't pull apart, you just didn't stretch it enough. To fix, just remelt and restretch.