Monday, April 02, 2012

April's Mozzarella del Mese: Nodini

Last month I made my first batch of mozzarella using New England Cheesemaking Supply's 30 Minute Mozzarella & Ricotta Kit. It was pretty firm. Definitely sliceable. Well nigh shreddable. This month I wanted to go for a more delicate consistency, like the light and airy fresh mozzarella I've had at fancy restaurants. The best example of this locally is available at the Cheese Cave in Claremont. On one of my many cheese buying binges there, the owner saw my we bairn and suggested she might like some nodini, which means "knots" in Italian. Nodini are just little knots of fresh mozzarella.

I owed four quarter-pound batches of mozzarella to some colleagues who helped me out with a little class project (in case you're wondering, according to Fullerton's zoning ordinances, the incoming CSUF president could keep chickens at her official residence). When asked what form they would like, the only one with an opinion requested nodini. The recipe in the booklet that comes with the kit yields approximately 3/4 lbs mozzarella. So instead of using one gallon of milk I increased it to 1 1/2 gallons of milk and increased all of the other ingredients proportionally, except for the salt. I also modified the original instructions to maximize moisture retention and tenderness. They turned out light as air and delicious, so I'll be returning to this interpretation of the recipe again.

For those of you playing along at home, I used Straus Family Creamery's whole, organic, non-GMO, creamtop, pasteurized milk which I purchased from Mother's Market in Brea.

Nodini adapted from Ricki's 30-Minute Mozzarella recipe in the booklet accompanying the 30 Minute Mozzarella & Ricotta Kit.
Yield: Approximately 1 1/8 lb. cheese

  • 1 1/2 gal whole, non-ultrapasteurized milk (I used pasteurized milk. The directions vary slightly in terms of times and temperatures for raw milk.)
  • 1/2 C cool, chlorine-free water
  • 1/2 tablet (or 1/2 t if you're using liquid) rennet
  • 1 1/2 C cool, chlorine-free water
  • 1 1/2 t citric acid
  • 1/2 t cheese salt
  • 2 gal stainless steel pot or any non-aluminum or non-cast iron pot.
  • slotted spoon
  • thermometer
  • long knife
  • large microwave-safe bowl
  • powderless nitrile gloves
  • Put a large bowl of chlorine-free water in the refrigerator. Put another large bowl of chlorine-free water in the freezer.
  • Dissolve rennet (tablet or liquid) in 1/2 C water. Stir and set aside.
  • Affix the thermometer in a readable position on the pot.
  • Dissolve citric acid in 1 1/2 C water. Pour into the pot.
  • Pour all of the milk into the pot and stir vigorously.
  • Heat the milk to 90 degrees Fahrenheit while stirring.
  • Remove the pot from the burner and slowly stir in the rennet solution with an up and down motion for approximately 30 seconds.
  • Cover the pot and leave it undisturbed for 7 minutes.
  • Check the curd. It should look like custard, with a clear separation between the curd and the whey. If the curd is too soft or the whey is milky, let set for a few more minutes.
  • Cut the curd with a knife that reaches to the bottom of your pot. Cut cubes no smaller than 1 inch square.
  • Place the pot back on the stove and heat to 100°F while slowly moving the curds around with your spoon.
  • Take off the burner and continue slowly stirring for 2 minutes.
  • Pour off the floating whey.
  • Ladle your curds into a large microwaveable bowl and drain off as much of the whey as you can without pressing the curds too much. Put on your gloves.
  • Place the bowl in the microwave for 1 minute. Meanwhile, take the large bowl of water out of the refrigerator and set it next to where you'll be tying your nodini.
  • Remove and drain off the whey as you gently fold the curds into one piece. Add 1/2 t salt.
  • If it's not warm enough to stretch, microwave for another 30 seconds. But if it's already starting to stretch, try to keep the microwaving to a minimum.
  • Stretch the cheese by pulling it into one long rope. Try to work it as little as possible to maintain the delicate texture.
  • Tie a knot at the end of the rope and pull it off from the rest of the rope. Immediately drop the knot into the large bowl of cold water. If the rope cools off too much to work with, pop it back in the microwave for a few seconds. Continue to do this until you've run out rope and have a bowl full of cold water and little knots of cheese.
  • Put your bowl full of cold water and nodini into the refrigerator for five minutes.
  • After five minutes, use the slotted spoon to transfer your nodini from the bowl of refrigerated water to the bowl of water in the freezer. Put your bowl full of really cold water and nodini in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • You can wrap these in waxed paper and store them in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Alternatively, you can float them in brine (just salt and water) in an airtight container for a similar length of time. Really, you'll end up eating them WAY before two weeks is up.
Previous Mozzarella del Mese:

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Bill said...


Shelly said...

Hi, Sarah. Sorry for leaving an unrelated comment at the end of your post. But I stumbled across an old piece by you about eating/cooking with persimmons. Trader Joe's now has frozen dried persimmons. I bought a box but I'm not sure quite what to do with them. Did you ever try any of the recipes you listed? Thanks!

Sarah said...

No worries, Shelly. I did make the Persimmon Cupcakes but substituted a basic cream cheese frosting. It should totally work with the frozen dried persimmons. Good luck!