Blog_Traditional Mozzarella With Jerrilynn and Stacie!_Jerri
A couple weeks ago, I posted about the fabulous, fun day when CFH’s own Jerrilynn and I got together to make cheese. Along with the delicious cottage cheese (it was gone in two days,) we made traditional mozzarella.

Thirty minute mozzarella is awesome, and, once you know what you’re doing, super easy. But traditional mozzarella is in a class of its own. It does take a LOT longer than the 30 minute, but the difficulty level is basically the same and the flavor is significantly better. Intensely milky, sweet, and rich, traditional mozzarella is well worth the time and effort to make at home.

Jerri and I started with two gallons of fresh, whole milk.

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We heated the milk to 85 degrees and added 1/4 teaspoon of MM100 mesophilic culture, and 1/4 teaspoon of Thermo B thermophilic culture. Once again, we let the cultures bloom on the surface of the milk for about 30 seconds before stirring them in. I like to stir for a full minute, so that every bit of the milk is thoroughly inoculated. Then we covered the pot and allowed those happy little bacteria to multiply and flavor our milk, off the heat, for about 30 minutes.

Next, we mixed 3/4 teaspoon of animal rennet into 1/2 a cup of cool, unchlorinated water. Once our busy little bacteria had been working for half an hour, we slowly added MOST of our rennet. Jerri stirred in an up and down motion (like a Spirograph, remember?) while I slowly dripped the rennet and water mixture in. Make sure to stop adding rennet when the milk starts to get noticeably thicker. Then, once again, we covered the pot and let it set for 30 minutes.

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When we could see a thin layer of clear whey floating on the surface, we tested the curds. We took the curd knife (I use an ancient, long carving knife with a rounded tip that I found at a yard sale) and poked it into the center of the cheese, just as you would do if you were testing the doneness of a cake. When the whey came in clear (not white or milky) we knew the curds were ready for cutting. We sliced them into 1/2 inch cubes and allowed them to rest for 20 minutes.

Next, we began to sloooooowly heat the curds to 100°F, stirring gently to release the whey. When the temperature hit 100°F, we turned off the heat and let all the curds sink to the bottom of the pot.

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The next steps are what give traditional mozzarella its rich flavor and flawless texture. Using a metal colander, we drained the curds and saved the whey for other projects. We filled the sink with hot water, placed the drained curds back in our cheese pot, and put the pot in the sink.

The purpose of this is to allow your cheese to become more acidic and stretchy…the same reason we use citric acid when making 30 minute mozzarella. Only this time, we are using all those delicious bacteria to acidify our cheese, adding flavor and digestibility.

Every fifteen minutes for two hours, drain the whey from your curds and flip the cheese over. Keep the water in the sink right around 102-105…warmer than room temp, but not overly hot.

Now comes the stretching portion. I have an electric tea kettle that will heat one gallon of water to 208°F in about 20 minutes, so Jerrilynn and I filled it all the way up, and started a pot of water simmering on the stove as well.

I like to divide my curds into two or four equal parts for stretching. If I’m making caprese salad or using my mozzarella for sandwiches, I make four. If I’m shredding and freezing the cheese or using it for pizza, I make two. Either way is easier than stretching close to two pounds of mozzarella all at once. Jerri and I made two balls, about one pound each.

Put on gloves, and gently pour about half a gallon of very hot water (not boiling, but over 170°F) over your divided curds. Using a wooden spoon, scoop out a portion of cheese and carefully knead the curds with your hands. There’s no rush…take your time. Squeezing too hard or kneading too harshly will cause your cheese to become tough and bitter. Repeat with each ball of cheese until the water is noticeably cooler…about ten minutes.

Continue adding hot water and stretching each ball until the cheese is elastic and very shiny. If you’re not sure, taste it! It should taste smooth, creamy, and slightly acidic.

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The final step is to either brine or salt your fresh mozzarella. Jerri and I salted ours because we wanted to try it right away. If you want to brine for hours, mix 2 pounds of sea or kosher salt with a gallon of water until the salt is dissolved. Then just add your cheese and let set for a few hours. Save the brine in the fridge after you’re done…it can be used for other cheeses, or even for lacto fermenting veggies!

It was such a tasty day and Jerrilynn and I had so much fun. The keys to making two cheeses at once:

  1. Keep two timers going, since different cheeses have different things happening. Post Its or color coordinated stickers are helpful for keeping things straight.
  2. Take lots of pictures, and share them with your CFH team! We love seeing your experiments.
  3. Two separate sets of equipment will prevent cross contamination and preserve flavors.

 

Happy culturing!