By Ed Barillas- Staff Writer
In Italy cheese makers would get 5 gallon buckets straight from the ocean and use it to brine their fresh mozzarella, they didn’t think it was bad, they didn’t have any problems with it and back then they didn’t have the sea contamination that exists today, but the thing is that saltwater has the perfect amount of salt content for mozzarella as it has the perfect saltiness, you know when you go swimming in the ocean and you get some saltwater in your mouth well, that’s the saltiness that you should be tasting when eating mozzarella if made right.
In today’s world with oils spills and toxic waste being pumped into once pristine ocean waters it is not recommendable to use saltwater to make your mozzarella cheese but you can still get a taste of the ocean with sea salt, which can be found in most stores today.
The history of mozzarella goes hand in hand with that of the water buffalo. There are many theories as to how the buffalo’s got to Italy as some say there were brought there by those from India and others say they were brought there by those from the Arab invasions. Either way they showed up during the 12 century at a time when many local citizens where fleeing the war and invasions and thus left their lands abandoned which soon turned into marshes and is what the buffalo’s prefer to be in. For centuries buffalo milk was used for the people diet and to make the mozzarella before cow milk substituted it and changed the face of mozzarella forever.
Mozzarella cheese is characterized by its stringy texture, which is a result of stringing the cheese to its well-known features. The stringy cheese is then cut or mozzare (which means cut in Italian) and immersed in a sea salt brine until eaten. Mozzarella cheese comes out of the curd that comes out of the cows milk which is made up of curds and whey. The whey goes to the bottom and the curds go to the top.
When twisting the cheese you are removing a lot of the butterfat and whey
And it gets stretched and stretched and felt by hand to make sure that all the curd clumps are gone so the cheese is not tough in the middle then the curd gets handled and folding underneath, as you want to make the top nice and smooth, and you can quickly soak it in the hot water to smooth it out as needed. It gets turned over and you make a little floret on the top which you pinch off. The key to making this cheese is to go slow.
The cheese can be made to create:
Roll to ball
Bocconcini (small mouthfuls in Italian)
The brine soak is very important as it needs to be thick and concentrated so when the mozzarella hits the brine your actually searing it and should be soaked for around 15 minutes. If you leave it in the brine for hours soaking then after drying it you have what is called scamorza, which means no-shirt in Italian and is a wonderful cheese and another article.
By the way if you get fresh mozzarella that is really chewy in the center it is because the curb was not cooked all the way, or fully cooked.
Three different types of mozzarella cheese exist:
Fresh: Mostly found in hand size shinny balls this cheese has the moisture level of 60 percent. This cheese is soft, mild and taste of fresh milk.
Pressed: This version is a dryer one and contains less moisture and is not as stringy.
Stretched: (pasta Filata) This one is creamy with a soft texture which is wonderful for pizzas and melted toppings and when heated stretches and sticks to other ingredients.
Of course there are various ways to enjoy this tasty cheese and the most famous ways being to top your pizzas, stuff your calzones with and eat as a salad with red ripe sliced tomatoes.
Heat a large pot of fresh milk to 87 degrees.
Add some cultured buttermilk, stir and let sit for one hour.
Add vegetarian rennet enzymes and stir thoroughly.
Let stand for one hour covered.
After an hour, test that the milk has coagulated fully by inserting a finger into the mass.
Cut the curd by inserting a knife and sliding every half-inch in each direction.
Next stir the curds and breakup and large pieces into half inch chunks.
Slowly heat the curds to 97 degrees stirring constantly.
The milk should begin to rise then you add the lemon juice and this causes the milk to separate from the whey.
This is perhaps the most popular cheese in the world as it tops probably the most famous food in the world…. Pizza. So check it out and keep enjoying it in its raw or cooked state, you’ll be sure to lose yourself in cheesy delights.