Nothing says summer more than pairing fresh mozzarella with a sweet tomato. The two together only needs a little salt, pepper and fresh basil to come alive. Did you know Haggen hand stretches our own mozzarella right in your local store?
I’m Darcie, the cheese specialist for the Ferndale Haggen store and I stretch mozzarella twice a week in our store to bring you the freshest cheese possible. The art of stretching took quite a while to master. Still to this day—though I’ve been stretching for over a year—I have batches that are perfectly smooth and others that seem to look like they’ve been in a fight with each other. Why so different from one batch to another? There are a few things that can affect the quality of the finished mozzarella ball.
To start, the curd is first put into a bowl of hot water at 185°, then I layer on three pairs of gloves so I can get my hands into the hot water and begin stretching. If the water is too hot the cheese curd will slip right through my fingers. If it is too cold the curd will seize up and be tough to stretch. In order to maintain the perfect temperature, I keep adding hot water to the curd.
After winding the cheese into a ball, I place the finished product in a bowl of ice water to immediately chill and set the shape and texture. This step is tricky because if there’s too much ice my mozzarella gets dimpled—not enough ice, and the mozzarella will not firm up. Next, we move it to the refrigerator to cool completely. Once it’s set, it’s wrapped and put in our Italian section of the specialty cheese case within a couple hours. Some of these fresh mozzarella balls are used to make our marinated mozzarella as well!
The final product has a delicate flavor of fresh milk with a soft, moist texture that’s firm enough for slicing. Our mozzarella is made with vegetarian rennet and a great option if you’re looking for a cheese naturally low in sodium. Here’s one of my favorite ways in enjoy my hand stretched mozzarella.
Fresh Mozzarella, Prosciutto and Melon Salad
Courtesy of Real Simple
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp champagne vinegar
- ½ cantaloupe or honeydew melon, sliced
- 3 oz prosciutto, sliced fresh in our service deli
- 8 oz fresh hand stretched mozzarella, torn into bite size pieces
- Fresh mint leaves
Whisk together the oil, vinegar and a little salt and pepper for dressing.
Divide melon, prosciutto and mozzarella among four plates and drizzle with the dressing. Top with fresh mint leaves.