A few weeks ago I took a Mozzarella pulling class at the new Pennsylvania Market in the Pittsburgh Strip District. I knew you could make your own mozzarella cheese but had never tried myself and didn’t really know where to start. But the guys from Romulus Dante, the Roman-style pizza shop inside the market, made it look easy – and it is!
5 steps to perfect fresh mozzarella cheese
All you need to start are mozzarella cheese curds. Apparently, don’t try making these yourself as you need a ton of milk to get only a few curds! But you can buy the curds at good cheese shops and we have one just down the street from the market – Pennsylvania Macaroni Company – or to Pittsburghers, “Penn Mac”.
The curds come vacuum-sealed and are in the deli case ready to go. They come in 1 lb blocks which are the perfect size. After all, how much mozzarella can one truly eat? Or maybe the better question is how much should one really eat?!
Cut the blocks into thin slices. I cut mine in about 1/2 inch pieces. Then, place them in a bowl with water at 145° F. The temperature is really important. It needs to be hot enough to start softening the curds, but not too hot to make them smooth.
With your hands, stir them around and allow them to break apart ever so slightly. Then drain all the water off and toss them with ~16 g of sea salt (1/2 oz.) and mix that in well and break apart the pieces.
Then add hotter water – 165° F. Again, the temperature is super important! Mine was that hot but by the time I picked up my camera, it had started to cool! You have to work fast!
Now comes the fun part! With a spoon and your hand, pull the curds from the hot water and “pull” them over the back of the spoon. Really stretch them and allow them to fall back in the water and repeat until you have a nice smooth pull of cheese. Yes, you need tough skin or thick gloves!
Once the cheese is smooth, pinch off a ball, roll it, place it in cool water and then and wrap it in plastic wrap to store.
It will keep for about a week. Mine won’t last that long! It’s being used in a Caprese salad for dinner tonight with tomatoes from the local farm stand and basil from my backyard. Delish!
If you can’t find cheese curds locally, Penn Mac does ship to consumers so you can order from them. Let me know if you try this and what you think!
If you live in Pittsburgh, The PA Market in the Strip District offers all sorts of classes – as well as excellent food and wine! Check them out on your next trip down to “the strip”!