From Class to Kitchen – Making Fresh Mozzarella
A rainy, cool day in October took me back to the farm where we first learned to make cheese. This time, however, the trip was to pick up fresh raw milk, the key ingredient for the fresh mozzarella that would accompany dinner.
Bread and Butter Farm, home of Henry’s Dairy, is located about 10 miles from my house on a windy road in North Western Vermont. As described in an earlier story, the farm is a busy place. Today, the farm store was loaded with fresh produce, fresh baked pastries and a group of locals enjoying a hot cup of coffee and good conversation.
I was a bit disheartened to see that the cooler, well-stocked with half gallon containers of fresh milk, was labeled with a sign reading “This milk is already sold,” an indication that the farm’s CSA is doing well. Fortunately, in the cooler to the right, I found two half gallons available for sale.
Having had a successful experience with the recipe from an earlier workshop with Vermont Farm Tours, we decided to stick with what worked. Milk, citric acid, vegetable rennet, and an instant-read thermometer were all that was needed. Although not required, we also enjoyed a glass of wine and some coffee house jazz as we worked through the recipe.
The milk had sat in the refrigerator undisturbed for a day and required a brief mixing before we started (note the line in the jar above where the fat had separated). We mixed 1 tsp of citric acid with 4 oz. of cold water and added the mixture to the milk in a stock pot. The process of raising the acidity of the milk allows the rennet to gather milk proteins, encouraging the whey and the curds to separate.
We gently heated the pot to 90 degrees F, stirring occasionally. While the milk was heating we measured 12 drops of rennet into 4 oz. of cold water. When the milk reached 90 degrees we removed it from the heat and stirred in the rennet solution. Time to let the rennet do its thing… setting the milk curd. This takes ~20 minutes. In our case, we were ready to go in 16 minutes.
Using an offset spatula, we cut the curd into 1″ by 1″ columns.
Next, we reheated the curd until it began to stick together and became stretchy.
We achieved our end goal at 130 degrees, the bottom end of the 130 – 140 desired window.
With rubber gloves to prevent burning from the hot whey, we scooped out handfuls of curd, stretched it for 5 – 10 seconds, formed it into balls and immersed into a salted ice water brine for 10 minutes. The final product, 25 ounces of the freshest mozzarella you’ll find…
… Ok, so that wasn’t the final product. The final product was this fresh made pizza we enjoyed for dinner
** Fresh mozzarella can be stored in the brine solution in your refrigerator for up to one week.