Cultured Mozzarella Cheese Info

Notes on Making Mozzarella

In making Mozzarella with a lactic bacteria starter culture, this “cultured” mozzarella is much more flavorful because the bacteria produce their own flavor as they convert the lactose in the milk.

Cultured mozzarella can be made using either thermophilic cultures (used for high temperature cheeses) or mesophilic cultures (for low temperature cheeses).

The cheese can be made from full fat milk as well as low fat milk-the difference will be less flavor in the latter.

If a soft moist cheese is made, it is best eaten within a day or so (in Italy this would be considered fresh for only a few hours). The drier cheese however can be aged for longer depending on final moisture and will actually improve with a few days aging because of the live bacteria that are still working after the cheese cools and changes the protein structure.

Different Types of Milk

For this recipe I have used a range of milks, starting with a pasteurized and homogenized milk and then working with a higher temperature pasteurized milk that can be problematic. I have also included a great quality raw milk from a local farm for anyone with raw milk.

I have also focused on using a good thermophilic culture such as our C201 or TA61 but have had great results using the Y1 Yogurt culture as well.

The recipe and photos below will be for a normal pasteurized milk since so many of our customers have access to this.

I have included a chart here to guide you in using various milk resources:

  • Normal Pasteurized Milk 161F for 16 seconds | Follow the guidelines in this recipe
  • High Temp Pasteurization 168F+ for 20+ seconds | Increase rennet 50-100% plus increase the coagulation time by 2-3 times the amount specified in this recipe.
  • Raw milk | Reduce culture by 30-40% and rennet by 20-30%. After cutting the curd, reduce cook temperatures by 6-10 degrees, for a softer final cheese.
    Note: Raw milk is not homogenized and the fat % is usually greater than can be held by the curd so you may see a much cloudier whey. This cream can be recovered by allowing it to rise and then skimming it off. It is good for butter or making sour cream since it also contains the bacteria.
  • Ultra-Pasteurized Milk | It will not work due to protein damage and calcium changes.

What is Mozzarella Cheese

Mozzarella could be the first thing that pops into your head when we mention Formaggio and Italy. It simply means small bits cut off a larger cheese (mozzare, to cut off). But what is it, how does a fresh and mild cheese get such a reputation.

With Mozzarella it is all about the quality of the milk and the freshness of the cheese. In Italy freshness is measured in hours rather than days from its production.

A Cheese that Stretches

Mozzarella is a stretched curd cheese (Pasta Filata). It is best produced from very fresh milk in which the natural or added dairy bacteria convert the sweet lactose in the milk to lactic acid. When the acid level reaches a specific point and the curd is held in hot water, it changes from the normal curd structure to a cheese stretching out into long elastic strands that are worked into the smaller forms and shapes.

This process can include a wide range of cheeses ranging from the very freshest Mozzarella to the longer aged Caciocavallo, Provolone, and Ragusano styles distinguished by their final moisture levels. High moisture for the fresh cheese and low moisture for longer aging.

Those tiny little Boconccini in the deli, the soft moist "fior di latte" that are like a moist cloud of milky flavor, The small hanging pairs of Scamorza and Scamorza Affumicata (Smoke) cheeses, The big block of Pizza cheese that can be sliced and shredded. How can they all be Mozzarella?

All of these cheeses are stretched curd cheeses made with a similar process. The difference in texture and moisture however is due to the temperature at which they are made, how long they are stirred and how much stretching is done. Just to give a little more perspective here, if we take this process even further with more curd cutting, heating, and stirring we can then move the same milk along into cheeses that are drier, longer aged, and with very strong flavors such as Provolone.

Variations in Style

  • Mozzarella di Bufala- The original mozzarella from water buffalo in southern Italy. Yes, water buffalo, the same creatures you see plodding through the rice paddies in the Far East but brought into Italy centuries ago to work the land in southern Italy. This is a moister version of the cheese with a very rich flavor due to the higher fat of the buffalo milk.
  • Fresh Mozzarella from cows milk. Much of the Mozzarella we see today is made from cow's milk. This is usually the softer moister cheese that we see in delis and usually has a shorter shelf life.
  • Low-moisture Mozzarella AKA pizza cheese. This is usually a drier cheese that is often made with reduced fat milk. This is the cheese that pizza shops buy and can be stored and aged for much longer than the fresh Mozzarella.
  • The stretched Mozzarella wrappers for cheese such as Burrata and Manteca. The fresh cheese of rich cream mixed with small curd bits or butter made from whey cream is wrapped inside a wrapper of the stretched Mozzarella cheese.
  • Goat or ewe's milk Mozzarella? Yes, the Mozzarella can be made from goat's milk as well as ewe's milk but the ewes milk version is quite unusual.