Do it yourself cheese

In the article on Umberto’s on page ___, you read that they make their own fresh mozzarella. Is this something you want to do? The advantages to making your own cheese are it gives you something unique to market about your restaurant, it allows you to control the freshness and quality of your cheese and in some cases, it can be cheaper than buying it. Like dough, this isn’t something you can master the first time you try it, but once you have, the product can be very satisfying. Here is the process. Try it out, use it on a couple of pizzas and see what you think.

To make fresh mozzarella, you first need to fill a pan with water to cover all the curd. Bring water to a boil and then add two cups of salt and bring to an idle for a minute or two. Make sure the water doesn’t get cold because then the curd will get hard. Be careful here because once the temperature reaches 250° to 300°, you run the risk of overcooking the curd. Turn off heat and leave curd in the water for 30 minutes or less. Remove one piece at a time and cut into desired sizes. Also, make sure the curd is soft, which will make it easier to process and roll. The harder the curd is the harder it will be to roll. Start to roll the pieces the same way you roll pizza dough. Place in strainer to drain after you have rolled it out. Seal the ends, bring it to the shape of a pear and wrap in a plastic. I recommend storing it two days before using.

It won’t be perfect the first time; you will learn a lot of technique along the way. Remember, just like pizza dough, practice makes perfect. About 20 pounds of curd will produce approximately 30 pounds of cheese. If you like, you can also add your own herbs to the cheese to flavor it, such as basil or pesto. If you like a little extra salt, add it to your taste. Experiment and learn the technique before you take the next step and start adding your own flavors. Once you have mastered the process, be sure to let your customers know what you are doing. This will give them something to talk about as they are eating at your restaurant or pizzeria and can help in generating word-of-mouth advertising.

Until next time,

Chef Bruno

20-qt stainless steel pan
Strainer to fit all the curd
Slotted ladle, tongs or spoon

1 pack (20lb) of curd (sold by cheese supplier)
2 cups salt