Origins of Mozzarella
According to the historian Monsignor Alicandri, Mozzarella cheese was first made in the 12th century by the monks of San Lorenzo di Capua in Italy. Originally, it was made with sheeps milk, but in the 16th century water buffaloes were introduced to Italy and the cheese makers soon discovered that the animals’ milk was rich enough to make cheese with. Henceforth the making the mozzarella from water buffalo milk was the norm and the tradition began.
Making young cheese
NOTE: When making ‘young’ cheeses, it is recommended to use pasteurized milk. If you have access to raw milk, then step one should be to pasteurize it.
2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice
1 gallon pasteurized milk
1/8 tsp liquid rennet, diluted in 1/4 cup of cool, unchlorinated water
1 tbsp cheese salt (salt without iodine, I use canning salt)
1. Add the lemon juice to the milk and mix thoroughly.
2. Heat the milk over a low flame on the stove-top until it reaches 88 F. (The milk should start to curdle. If it doesn’t, add another tablespoon of lemon juice.)
3. Stir in the diluted rennet with an up-and-down motion. Continue heating the milk until it reaches 105 F. Turn off the heat and let the curd set until you get a clean break. This will only take about 6-5 minutes. At this stage, the curds will look like thick yogurt.
4. Scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon and place into a microwavable bowl. Press the curds gently and pour off as much when as possible being careful to save the whey (then make bread using the whey as the liquid, or feed to the chickens–they love whey!).
5. Microwave the curds in HIGH for 1 minute. Drain the whey and quickly work the cheese like bread dough. You can wear rubber gloves if you wish as the cheese will be quite hot to touch.
6. Microwave the cheese twice more for 35 seconds each. Again work the cheese into a ball draining the excess whey each time.
8. Knew quickly like bread dough until it is smooth, sprinkling with salt as you work. When the cheese is smooth it is ready to eat.
At this stage it is bocconcini and quite unlike the mass produced mozzarella of the grocery store. Hence, I use it right away. It is traditionally use on pizza Napoletana, though I found it doesn’t melt the way mass produced mozza does (this of course could be something I’m not doing quit correctly and you may have a different experience as so much about cheese making is precision related). However, instead of using it on pizza, my favourite thing to do with it is slice it thinly and layer it between slices of tomato. Then drizzle pesto sauce over top, sprinkle some toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil and some cracked pepper. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread or plain crackers. YUM. If you have pesto on hand, it is a quick and easy–yet elegant–appetizer.