One of our most popular classes this summer has been our Mozzarella Making 101 class. We offered the class in July and August and are rounding out the season with two more classes this month. The class is held at Bread and Butter Farm, an organic veggie, beef, and pork farm located in Shelburne. In addition to growing and caring for the vegetables and livestock, they have a number of other events that take place on the farm including Music for Sprouts, Burger Night, sunset yoga, community storytelling, and much more! They grow their food through a regenerative agricultural model, meaning their practices reflect the understanding of their ecological landscape and the desire to rebuild, maintain and improve the quality of life for the plants they cultivate and animals they care for.
The Mozzarella Making 101 class is taught by Phoebe Tucker, a member of the Bread and Butter team. Phoebe is an educator, artist and lover of all things cheese! Phoebe starts each class by explaining that Mozzarella is a “quick” cheese meaning participants are able to taste the cheese they make at the end of the class!
To start, participants create a brine with salt and water that the finished mozzarella will sit in. Phoebe explains that it is important to use lightly pasteurized or unpasteurized (raw) milk because the enzymes in raw milk are going to help form the cheese. When using raw or lightly pasteurized milk, the curd, or the solid product that forms during the cheese making process, will have a stronger protein structure and ultimately result in a higher yield.
Participants begin by adding water and a citric acid mixture to the milk and then heat it up to begin the curdling process. After the milk reaches 90 degrees, participants take the pot off the heat and added in vegetable rennet. Vegetable rennet is a product used in cheese making to mimic the milk in the stomach of an unweaned calf. Rennet, in addition to the citric acid, helps to separate the curds, (the solid product) and whey (the liquid byproduct) in the cheese making process.
Once the citric acid and rennet are added, the group has some time to kill while the milk is separating, during which time we usually walk around and explore the farm. During this walk, participants can see the greenhouses, chickens, and even baby pigs (at the start of summer).
After about 20 minutes, the group heads back inside to find their milk separated! The cheese is then cut into small cubes and heated again. Once it reaches 135 degrees, the cheese is taken off the heat, and is ready to be shaped. This is the fun part! Participants then get the chance to stretch and fold the curds to create small, medium or large mozzarella balls. Once they are shaped, the mozzarella is dropped into the brine to sit.
After everyone has a chance to shape their perfect mozzarella ball, it’s time to sit down and enjoy the fruits of their labor! At the end of the evening, there is often a group consensus that there are few combinations better than tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella cheese!
Look out next summer for more Mozzarella classes!
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