As long as we can remember we have always wanted to learn the proper way to make mozzarella cheese from scratch. The taste of the fresh stuff is almost indescribable as it melts in your mouth. The sweet, warm, milky center slowly drips out with each bite and compliments the salt-brined exterior. There may not be anything better to eat in this world than this handcrafted delicacy. If you have never been fortunate enough to taste fresh mozzarella we ask you to stop reading and make a trip to The Italian Pork Store to get your hands on some immediately.
Now that you can relate, continue reading because we know all you can think about is having this cheese made fresh at home. We went through the same issues for years but fortunately we stumbled upon one of the best cooking stores in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Kitchen is home to tons of great cooking supplies, locally sourced vegetables and numerous artisanal products. In addition to all of this, they also play host to The Meat Hook butcher shop. The meat Hook provides some of the best quality meat and products you can find (their house made dogs and sausages are divine). You would think that offering all of this would be more than enough for most stores but here they top it off with this amazing classroom area dedicated to culinary classes. The classes offered range from learning to handle a knife in the knife skills class to pig butchering and you guessed it cheese making, mozzarella cheese making! Once we saw this class was being offered here we had to do it, but it was constantly sold out. We tried for months to sign up and finally we were able to get in, fresh mozzarella cheese would finally be in our reach.
You are probably wondering what the classroom area is all about. As we mentioned there is a dedicated area located in the store just for the classes. We were expecting it to be a bit small but to our surprise it had tall ceilings, a number of work stations and a great atmosphere for cooking. We arrived early and were greeted with glasses of wine to drink during the class. The seats were not assigned so we just sat down and started to mingle with our classmates. While we were all getting to know each other our teacher was getting the stations set up. Our teacher for the day was professional Cheesemonger, Emily Acosta (@_emilyacosta), who was named one of Zagat's 30 under 30 (#zagat30under30). She was extremely personable and passionate about cheese. You could tell she was really excited to introduce all of us to the world of cheese. The class began with Emily providing a brief introduction about herself and her cheese making career. We all then went around the room introduction ourselves and naming our favorite cheese. The class was a nice size, there were about 16 total people allowing us to split up into 4 groups of four. These small groups allowed everyone to be involved intimately in the cheese making process. We were each provided a set of written instruction but Emily walked us through each step and the reasoning for each one.
Pro Tip: One of the most important things we learned in the class was the need to use Non-Homogenized milk. We can't stress how important it is. Previously, we tried one of those Make At Home Mozzarella Kits and it ended up being a waste of our time. Thanks to this class we now know it was because we used 2% milk and not non-homogenized.
During the cheese making process there tends to be some down time while we waited for the cheese to come together. These breaks were used by Emily to provided us with an education on different cheeses and what characteristics made them similar to mozzarella and what made them different. It was nice to have someone who was able to articulate subtle difference in cheese and explain what steps in the cheese making process were responsible for the differences.
Below you will see some of the steps it took to come home with some fresh mozzarella. The best part of this class was when we learned that Buratta Cheese can be made using the same process. You simply need to just change a few steps, but that's for another post. The Mozzarella we made was delicious and for our first real time making mozzarella from scratch we were happy with it. Mozzarella cheese making is a process that requires some refinement of techniques but after some practice we could surely make something that is in the same ball park as an Italian deli. For the time being however it will be a nice substitute, especially as a rainy day project.
Should or Should Not Eat?:
The class itself was held in a great place with an awesome teacher using quality products. We loved this class and are trying to decide which one we want to do next. We have been eyeing the knife skills class but they all sound great. Any of these classes would make an excellent last minute Christmas gift for any cook in your family no matter their skill level. We would highly recommend taking a class at The Brooklyn Kitchen, and would consider it a Should Eat!