Water Buffalo Herds Growing in the United States
While mozzarella di bufala may not be available in your neck of the woods, you can still make fresh mozzarella for a smooth, warm treat.
1 gallon milk (whole, 2 percent or skim)
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered citric acid dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool water (if using rennet tablets, follow conversion instructions on the package)
1 to 2 teaspoons cheese salt
In stainless steel pot, slowly heat milk to 55ºF. While stirring, slowly add citric acid solution and mix thoroughly but gently.
Heat milk to 88ºF over medium-low heat. It will begin to thicken like yogurt.
Gently stir in diluted rennet for 30 seconds. Then don’t disturb the milk while you let it heat to between 100 and 105ºF. In about 5 to 8 minutes, curds should begin to break up and pull away from sides of pot. Turn off heat.
Curds will look like thick yogurt and become a bit shiny, and whey will be clear. If whey is still milky white, wait a few more minutes before turning off heat. Scoop out curds with slotted spoon and put in bowl. Reserve whey. Press curds gently with your hands, squeezing out as much whey as possible.
Heat reserved whey to 175ºF. Shape curds into several small balls, rolling them between your palms. Put them, one at a time, into ladle and dip them in hot whey for several seconds. Remove from whey and gently fold cheese over and over (as in kneading bread) with spoon or your hand. (You’ll want to don rubber gloves at this point, as the cheese will be extremely hot.) This distributes the heat evenly throughout the cheese, which will not stretch until it is too hot to touch (145ºF inside the curd).
Repeat this process several times until curd is smooth and pliable; mix in salt after second time. When cheese stretches like taffy, it’s done. If curds break instead of stretch, they are too cool and need to be reheated.
When cheese is smooth and shiny, roll it into balls and eat while warm. Although best eaten fresh, it can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or so. Yields about 1 pound.