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Authentic Southern Italian Cuisine
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Carlino’s Secret Homemade Mozzarella Cheese Recipe

September 29, 2012 Carlino's Restaurant no comments
carlino's-mozzarella
“Homemade mozzarella is a gourmet delight”

Mozzarella adds the luscious creaminess that makes a pizza delicious, but the best mozzarella is the hand-made kind. It’s the way we do it at Carlino’s, and today we’ll share how you can make it yourself. Whether you eat it on pizza, slice it for tricolore salad or crumble it atop a thick square of lasagna, fresh mozzarella is a culinary revelation.

Originally made from water buffalo milk, most mozzarella you’ll find today comes from cow’s milk. Cows are much easier to find than water buffalo, and their milk tastes very similar. You’ll need a little lemon juice, some rennet, a dash of kosher salt and plenty of fresh whole milk.

Before you start on the milk, prepare the rennet according to the manufacturer’s directions. Rennet is an essential part of cheese-making because it’s what helps the mozzarella form into curds firm enough to stretch. Most varieties need to be mixed with water to be effective. Stir about a quarter cup of lemon juice into the rennet and water mixture.

While the rennet dissolves in the water, warm a gallon of milk until it feels warm, but not hot. Use a thermometer to determine when the milk is at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and stir in the rennet mixture.

As the rennet and lemon juice react with the fresh milk, you’ll see it start to thicken. Mozzarella needs to rest, so stir it for just about half a minute to make sure that all the rennet mixes thoroughly with the heated milk. After it’s mixed, cover and let it rest while the rennet does its work. We wait about eight minutes, just long enough to start our house-made tomato sauce simmering.

When you lift the lid, you’ll smell the creamy scent of mozzarella cheese, but it isn’t done yet. It’s still too wet, so slice the curds into cubes and bring the heat up to help the thick curds release more whey. After the curds move to the bottom of the pot, take them off the heat and scoop them out of the whey with a slotted spoon or a kitchen strainer. The curls of fresh mozzarella should look a little like cottage cheese at this point.

Dunk the curds in salted water that’s just below boiling. The extra heating makes the cheese firm, and mozzarella has to be firm enough to tear into pieces to go on our Grandma’s pizza. Press the whey out of the curds after each trip into the hot bath. You’ll know they’re ready when they start to clump together. Add a teaspoon or two of kosher salt, and the cheese is ready to knead!

If you’ve ever wondered why mozzarella is so stringy, it’s because you pull it like taffy. Each string used to be a fat curd, but pressing and stretching turns it into a skinny strand. Pull and knead the fresh, warm mozzarella until it forms a smooth ball.

It’s a little bit of work to make fresh mozzarella cheese, but there’s nothing like it for making Italian food special. Try Carlino’s hand-pulled mozzarella and you’ll taste the difference.



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