I Made Burrata and Mozzarella from Scratch, and You Can Too!
Learning How to Make Cheese at Home with Vincenzo Troia's Weekend Course: Caseus – Arte del Latte
I could have never imagined you can make cheese at home. We usually think of cheesemaking as something magical, almost obscure, how does it happen, who makes it: We have milk, the milk curds (somehow), and then… ta-da! There you have it: Cheese.
Caseus – Arte del latte: How to Make Cheese at Home
When I first read about Caseus – Arte del Latte’s course, I have to admit I was skeptical. Then, I found out how meticulous yet simple the whole process is: It is just a matter of scaling down quantities and get the right equipment (nothing complicated: stainless steel pots, a spatula, a thermometer, cheesecloth…). A real passion for cheese helps, too. I guarantee there is nothing like the excitement of making cheese at home from scratch!
Caseus – Arte del latte (translated: The Art of Milk, where “caseus” is Latin for “cheese”) is a project helmed by Vincenzo Troia, a young Apulian cheesemaker, who travels around Italy and the world teaching, educating, counseling, and show-cooking. For a cheese lover, watching him make mozzarella is the closest to seeing a magician at work! However, cheese is no magic: It is dedication, knowledge, and science, just as I learned in his weekend-long course.
The Process of Making Cheese
If the process is all the same, all the time, how do you explain all the different cheeses? Mozzarella, provolone, Parmigiano, pecorino, gorgonzola, and so on (and I’m only naming a few Italian cheeses, don’t get me start on the rest of the world)…So many possible shapes, textures, and flavors, and only one process. How can it be? Where does it all come from?
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Typically, the cheesemaking process includes letting milk reach a certain temperature, inoculating it with a coagulating agent (the rennet, which can be animal, vegetable, or synthetic), then breaking the curd that has just formed into variable size pieces. Nevertheless, the combinations are infinite and they are linked to different factors, such as milk and rennet used, along with water content, temperature, acidity level, and time.
Cheesemaking is a fascinating art for sure, worth studying for a cheese lover, but here we are asking a different question: Is it possible to make cheeses (if not all, at least some of them) at home? The answer is: Yes, it is. And Foodiamo went directly onto the field to prove it.
All Types of Italian Cheese
We are talking about fresh cheeses (those that do not require any aging) made with cow’s milk, and also yogurt and ricotta (which is technically not a cheese). Think soft and spreadable products, such as tart and creamy stracchino and silky and smooth robiola, or firmer ones like caciotta, perfect for melting, and primosale, good in salads and for grilling. Last but not least, mozzarella: the queen of Italian cheeses.
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In order to make mozzarella properly, though, you are required to have amazing skills, coupled with a high tolerance to hot water! Vincenzo showed us how to make balls, trecce (braids), and nodini (knots). It is still possible to make mozzarella at home. Only, your shapes probably won’t be as pretty as Vincenzo’s!
And speaking of mozzarella lingo, I finally learned what they mean in Southern Italy when they say bocconcini (one-bite mozzarella balls), what is stracciatella (shredded mozzarella submerged in cream), what they mean when you read “fiordilatte mozzarella” on a menu (it’s just a way of calling cow’s milk mozzarella to differentiate it from buffalo’s milk mozzarella) and, my favorite, how burrata is made (a ball of mozzarella filled with stracciatella). All delicious variations on mozzarella I am dying to replicate at home!
Now… cheese down y’all!
Photos by Daniela Guglielmi for Caseus, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.