Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (using purchased curd)2014-08-14
- Yield : varies
- Servings : varies
- Prep Time : 45m
- Cook Time : 0m
- Ready In : 2:0 h
Easy technique for transforming curd into fresh mozzarella.
- fresh mozzarella curd (I bought a 10# block of curd and halved it. The other half was frozen for later use)
- salt, optional
Working with a manageable piece of curd, in this case 5 pounds, cut the curd into small pieces about 1" in overall diameter. You want them as close to equal size as possible.
Place the curd pieces into a large bowl that will hold a great amount of hot water without too much spill over.
Boil a kettle of water. Boiling water is 212 degrees. Keep this in mind.
Pour the boiling water down the sides of the bowl. Do not pour on the curd as this will scald them and form a tough outer skin on them. Because boiling water is too hot to work with, run the sink faucet to it's hottest point; this will only be 120-160 degrees. Fill the kettle or a pitcher and pour this water down the sides of the bowl until the curd is completely covered with hot water.
Using two wooden flat spoons, spatulas, whatever you have that will help you manipulate the curd, stir gently to warm each piece. Stir from the bottom up, around, and around to warm each piece. After about 3 minutes of stirring, let the curd rest for about 5 minutes to absorb heat.
Pour off about 2/3rds of the water. The remaining 1/3 is left in to keep the water temperature at a decent rate to work with. Using the hottest water from the faucet, pour more water down the sides of the bowl to completely cover the curd.
Now the technique changes a bit. Take the spatulas, spoons, whatever you are using to turn the curd, and go to the bottom then pull up to stretch the curd. You can use your hands if the water is not too hot for you. Grab a manageable piece of curd and stretch it. Put it back in the water to rest and grab another piece and stretch. Keep stretching pieces until every bit has been stretched. The stretching creates long strands and a smooth texture to the final product.
Check the water temperature. If it has cooled down too much, pour off 2/3rds of the water and add back with hottest faucet water. If the water cools too much, the curd is hard to manipulate.
At this point, fill another large container with cold water. You want enough water in there to allow the cheese to float.
Take a clump of stretched curd and form into a ball. Hold your thumb and pointer finger in a tight "c" and push down over the ball to smooth it. There will be a dangling clump of cheese at the bottom of the ball, just cut it off with a sharp knife. Put the excess back in the hot water. Continue making balls of the size that you like. You can get creative and pull into strands, twist, and make ropes. You can make tiny balls too.
Every time you make a ball, drop it in the cold water. This cold water sets the cheese so it doesn't become misshapen. You can use the salt to salinate the water which lightly salts the cheese.
Once all the curd is used to make your desired shapes and it is resting in the cold water, decide how much you want to refrigerate and what you want to freeze. Transfer balls to refrigerator/freezer containers with tight lids. Cover with water. Refrigerate up to two weeks. This cheese has no preservatives so eat while fresh. Freeze what you want, but make sure you have water in those containers too. When ready to use, remove container from freezer and let it unthaw in the refrigerator overnight.
My Notes: I changed the water whenever it became too hard to form the stretched curd; two additional times. Work as steadily and quickly as possible to not overwork the curd. You can see that it is overworked when the balls look a little rough on the outside (cheese strands are breaking due to too much manipulation) Still tastes good.
The initial stretching step is a bit intimidating to first timers. It doesn't look like anything is happening. Keep at it and especially after the first draining, you will see the stretching and then the combining of the pieces into a large clump. It bears repeating, never pour hot or boiling water directly on the curd. It will be impossible to stretch and work with.