Thursday, February 18, 2010

Making Fresh Mozzarella at Home

For those of you who love the creamy, delicate taste of silky, fresh mozzarella or the even more sublime burrata you can imagine why one would attempt to make either of these items at home, for everyone else this will seem like a foolish endeavor.

Given the difficulty of getting this right we're tempted to agree with the latter - however it appears that  raw materials that are not quite up to spec caused the greatest problems. The milk as one might expect is they key ingredient - it must be fresh, whole milk that has not been ultrapastuerized. A low heat pastuerization is best because the higher temperatures degrade the proteins in the milk which create the desired stringy, stretchy texture.

The first attempt used an organic milk from Whole Foods - surely that would be a better raw material right? Wrong - after getting it home we noticed the fine print that said it was ultrapasteurized. Of course we tried anyway and came up with some delicious, fresh cheese that had no elasticity whatsoever.

The actual hands on time is pretty short - maybe 20 minutes tops - the majority of the time you are waiting for the timer to go off before performing the next step. The utensils needed are few - a pot, a slotted spoon, some cheesecloth, a timer and accurate thermometer, the range and I also used a heating pad to maintain the delicate temperature required. All in all from start to finish you'll need a solid 6 hours to end up with a clean kitchen and a few balls of mozzarella. This is what our set up looked like.

After adding the rennet and letting it set it was time to cut the curds. After seeing this at cheese factories it was cool to do it at home. So far so good!

From there we stirred the curds to separate out the way every ten minutes.

After that they went into a cheesecloth sack to hang for three hours to remove more whey.

After that a dip in hot water to melt the curds and stretch them into balls.

If we hadn't overheated the milk at the first step we might have had better elasticity - but it did taste right!