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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Mad about Mozz

Have you ever traveled somewhere and found something you really love, only to return home to the realization that you just can't find it there? That's exactly what happened to Paula Lambert upon her return from Italy, where she first discovered fresh Mozzarella back the 1960's. When she would return home to Dallas, fresh Mozzarella simply wasn't available. Traditionally in Italy, Mozzarella is made with the fresh milk of Water Buffalos. It can also be made with cow's milk, and is then called "Fior di Latte".  The cheese is made fresh daily and sold immediately.

The original cheesemaking room ,
where the cheeses are still made today.
In 1982, Paula decided that this delicious fresh cheese should be available to food lovers in the Dallas area. She founded the Mozzarella Company at 2944 Elm Street, where it still operates today. Fresh Mozzarella is not the only cheese Paula produces. Caciotta, Montasio, Queso Fresco, Queso Oaxaca, Ricotta, Mascarpone, Creme Fraiche, Burrata, Crescenza, Flavored Mozzarella, Mascarpone Tortas and smoked Scamorza are just some of the Cow's milk cheeses available in the small retail shop at the creamery. She also makes "Deep Ellum Blue", which is perfect for those who don't think they like Blue cheeses. It is innoculated only on the outside, so you get a beautiful blue flavor that is not at all overwhelming. "Blanca Bianco", a Paula Lambert original is washed daily with white wine, producing a beautiful flavorful rust-hued rind. Paula also makes a delicious line of fresh Goat's milk cheeses, but we'll look at those on another day :)

Each wheel is made, turned and waxed by hand

Paula Lambert of the Mozzarella Company in Dallas, TX

Mozzarella, by Me

 Most people do not realize exactly how simple it is to make fresh Mozzarella. Using a few tools and ingredients, along with high quality milk, you can have Mozzarella cheese whenever you like in about 30 minutes.

C'mon...give t a try!

To make Mozzarella, you'll need some basic items: A non-aluminum boiling pot, a colander, a large bowl, a small bowl, a whisk, a slotted spoon, a thermometer, non-chlorinated water, sea salt, Citric Acid, Rennet, a pot of hot water, and if you have sensitive fingers, a pair of forks. The final ingredient: high quality fresh milk. While it isn't imperative to use raw milk, you need to make sure it isn't high heat or "Ultra Pasteurized".

Fresh Mozzarella is quick and easy to make!
 To make about 3/4# of cheese, you will need:

1 gallon Milk (NOT Ultra-Pasteurized)
1 ¼ C cool water 1 tsp Salt, to taste (optional)
¼ Rennet Tablet (1/4 tsp if using liquid Rennet)
Sea Salt, to taste
A pot of very hot (but not boiling) water. 185 degrees works well.

Directions: Dissolve ¼ rennet tablet into ¼ Cup of cool, chlorine-free water. Wrap the remaining pieces of tablet in plastic wrap and store in the freezer. Note: If you have liquid rennet, you will use ¼ teaspoon.)

Mix 1 ½ teaspoons citric acid into 1 cup cool, chlorine-free water until dissolved. Pour 1 gallon of milk into your pot and stir vigorously while adding the citric acid solution. Heat the milk to 90 degrees F while stirring.

Remove the pot from the burner and slowly stir in the rennet solution with an up and down motion for approximately 30 seconds.
Cover the pot and leave it undisturbed for 5 minutes.

Check the curd, it should look like custard, with a clear separation between the curd and the whey. If the curd is too soft or the whey is milky, let set for a few more minutes.

Cut the curd with a knife that reaches to the bottom of your pot. Place the pot back on the stove and heat to 110 degrees F. while slowly moving the curds around with your spoon. Take off the burner and continue slowly stirring for 2 minutes

Place the colander over the large bowl. Using the slotted spoon transfer the curds from the pot into the colander, pressing out as much whey as possible.

When you have removed all of the curd, pour some of the 185 degree water into the small bowl. This is where you will soften and stretch your cheese. Take about half of your curd and place it in the water. Allow it to soften for a minute or so. If you have sensitive fingers, use the pair of forks to remove the curd and begin to pull at it like taffy. If it breaks in half instead of stretching, you may want to soften it a bit more.

Auntie Wench and Mother Wench learning to make fresh Mozzarella
At this point you can take a bit of your cheese salt and work it into the cheese as you stretch it. The cheese will take on a shiny finish. Remember that the more you stretch, the firmer your cheese will be. Don't be afraid to put your cheese back in the warm water for a minute if it becomes too cool to finish stretching. If you do however you may want to check the seasoning as some of your salt may wash off into the water.

When you have finished stretching, shape your cheese into whatever form you want (but I highly reccommend sampling your cheese first, as it's the very best while it's still warm and fresh). You can form your cheese into a  ball, small "bocconcini", or even into sticks for great homemade string cheese. You can always dip your shaped cheese into a bowl of cold water to cool it so that it will not lose it's shape. Repeat with the remaining half of the curd.

To store your cheese, put it in a container along with enough of the whey from the pot (cooled first) so that it covers the cheese. This will keep your cheese from drying out. It will keep several days in the refrigerator, but why should it have to?

 Note: Once you have tried this a couple of times, I recommend giving goat Mozzarella a try. It is FABULOUS!

Not up to experimenting on your own? Join me at Sage Culinary Studio
on Saturday, July 23rd for my Soft Cheese Making class. It's hands-on, and we'll make fresh Mozz and Ricotta. For more info, call 918.364.SAGE.
Try fresh Mozzarella in a Caprese Salad 

For more information on Paula Lambert and the Mozzarella Company, check out her website.

For cheese making supplies, you can buy them locally at High Gravity Homebrewing and Winemaking Supplies, or online at the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company.

 Want fresh local milk? If you are in the Tulsa area you can find it at HLA Country Farms in Talala. Not in the area? Go to

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