DIY gourmet fresh mozzarella with Caputo Brothers Creamery
Face it, not all of us have the DIY gene. But we love the idea of having the rich quality mozzarella (or ricotta or burrata) that's virtually impossible to buy, even at the most upscale of grocery stores or Italian delis. Recently, I had a terrific Groupon to attend a cheese making class in the suburbs of Baltimore. Little did I know that Caputo Brothers Creamery is well known throughout the culinary world!
The creamery up in Spring Grove, PA is named after two adorable brothers, both of who participated in the demonstration. I learned a lot! I never realized that the same curds that eventually can be used to make mozzarella can also make ricotta, burrata and Provolone! Also, that to be a true mozzarella, you have to use the milk from Italian water buffalo born in Italy, grass fed, having their calves there and raised there. Otherwise, if you're using cow's milk, it's "Fior di Latte".
Mozzarella is made every single day, fresh, in Italy. The firm textured drier mozzarella that's popular here simply isn't there. Caputo Brothers Creamery is the only fermented cheese curds in the USA that's stretched into mozzarella. None of their cheeses are aged more than 60 days. The incredible tangy, creamy flavors that result have been acclaimed in the New York Times, Food and Wine magazine and New York magazine listed them as one of the 50 Best Things to Eat.
Chemically, their cheese products -- like ricotta -- are 95% protein (opposed to having lots of lactose sugars).
The creamery has all kinds of special activities to celebrate food: farm table dinners, tours, classes, even culinary tours of Italy! Their business is cooking along so well, though, that they recently had to end their lunch cafe.
I went home with frozen curds and patiently waited a few hours for them to defrost. There are a few other steps (see the photos). For each pound, you add 3 big handfuls of kosher or sea salt -- not iodized -- and gently stretch the curds by letting them fall off a wooden spoon.
You should not put the cheese in aluminum, just microwave safe glass or Pyrex. The leftover whey -- which is rich, but really salty -- can be used to make risotto, cook vegetables in, make a soup base, etc. You can freeze it! If you have empty plastic ice cube trays, you can portion things out nicely. Put it in the deep part of the freezer.
The cheese, because it's from cultured curds, has a short shelf life. It gets tangier the longer it ferments. After two days, wrap it in plastic wrap: it's Provolone. Don't ever freeze cheese.