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How to make mozzarella

message posted 12-Dec-08 13:32:42

10 l milk
Starter whey (made from the fermented milk)

Step 1 - The milk

Start with 10 litres of raw cow's milk (you can easily find raw milk from farmers' market or direct from producers such as Alham Wood in Somerset). If you cannot find raw milk, use a pasteurised and unhomogenised jersey milk, however, beware, if the milk has been pasteurised at a high temperature the mozzarella will not form.

Step 2 - Bring the milk to temperature

Pour the milk into a stainless steel pot (that holds 11 litres at least of liquid as you need to add your starter whey to the 10 litres of milk). Very gently warm the milk to a temperature of 37-38C. Stir it occasionally so the heat is evenly distributed.

Step 3 - The starter

Add the starter at a ratio of 10 litres milk to 500ml of starter (ie the whey made from the day-before the mozzarella is made) and stir. If you don't make your own whey, you can find culture starters on the web but it should not be added cold but at a temperature of around 30C

Step 4 - The rennet

Add one teaspoon of rennet and stir, cover and leave to rest for 10 to 15 minutes, so that the temperature is kept at 37C (I use blankets and old towels to wrap around the pot).

Step 5 - Curds and whey

The milk should have coagulated and you should have a pannacotta-looking mass. You now have the curd (the solid part) and the whey (the liquid part).

Step 6 - Cutting the curds

With a long kitchen knife, cut the curd straight through the middle and look for a clean cut. If the curds give resistance, stop. It means it needs to rest longer so leave it for another 30 minutes or so and try again. Very gently cut the curds vertically in strips to slowly release some of the whey. Leave it for about 15 minutes then cut it at a 45 degrees angle to achieve diamond shapes.

Using a large spoon or a whisk, stir gently and collect the curds from the bottom of the pan in order to cut any pieces you might have left out. This takes some patience as the curds will be very slippery. Pick a piece of curd up and squeeze it between your fingers, it should feel soft. As the curd ferments it should become firmer and is fermenting correctly.

Cover the pot with a lid, keep it away from draughts and place lots of towels or blankets over it, as you want the temperature to remain between 37C and 40C so the curds will start the fermentation process.

Leave the curds to ferment for between two and four hours.

Step 7 - Monitoring the curds

After two hours remove the lid, collect some of the whey (put the lid back on and cover) and measure the acidity by using the litmus paper. The curds will be ready to 'filare' (become stringy) when they reach an acidity of ph5. If the curds are too soft leave for a further 30 minutes. Towards the end of the time, check it every 10 minutes as you dont want the curds to over ferment otherwise you will not be able to get the 'filatura'.

Step 8 - The test

When you have reached ph5, collect a piece of curd, squeeze it into your hands to release the whey and crumble it on to a slotted spoon. Have a pan of boiling water on the side. Plunge the spoon with the curds in the water and stir. Take the curds and lift, they should be stringy. If the curds easily stretch and dont break, it means it's ready. If not leave them a little longer.

Step 9 - Drain the curds

Drain the curds in a colander. Keep some of the whey as whey as that can be your starter for the next time you make mozzarella. Cut the curds into two so that you can get rid of all that acidic whey. Pour some cold water over it.

This step is very important because if you leave the curds in contact with the whey they will continue fermenting and will not become stringy anymore.

Place the drained curds in a cheese cloth and hang it in the fridge or place the curds in a colander. Whatever option you choose, you must allow the whey to drain from the curds. Leave the curds to rest for 30 minutes to a maximum of two hours in the fridge. You are now ready to shape them!

Step 10 - The Filatura (stringy dough)

Have a large pot of water on the stove (80C to 90C).

In a large round bowl break and crumble the squeezed and drained curds. Add a generous amount of salt and pour some hot water into the side of the bowl so that the curds are hit slowly by the water. The temperature to use varies according to the consistency of the curds: the firmer the curds, the hotter can be the water, the softer the curds, the cooler needs to be the water. Cover the curds generously with water and with a wooden spoon stir gently in one direction first and then in the other.

The curds should now collect together and become stringy. If you feel the curds are not collecting, pour that water away and stir again by adding slightly cooler water over it.

Work the pasta filata until it becomes shiny and lump free. With the help of a flat large wooden spoon, lift the mixture from the bowl and stretch it with your hand on to the flat surface of the spoon; then drop it back down in the hot water. Now throw away that water (this way you will get rid of more acidity) and pour some cooler water (70C) over the mass. The water will help you mould the dough until you get to a thick stick (about 3cm diameter). If you feel you are loosing the dough from your hands, add some cold water; on the other hand, if you feel the dough is too stiff, plunge it in hot water.

Form into balls or knots and then plunge them immediately in ice-cold water to firm up.

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