Mozzarella. We all know some form of it, whether it’s the melted stuff on late night pizzas, slices layered between deli meats at picnics and parties, or melted between sheets of pasta in lasagna. While we all love a little melty, creamy sandwich cheese, nothing comes close to fresh mozzarella. Yes, fresh. As fresh as it gets. Fresh meaning Karli is behind the counter making balls of mozzarella as I type this, that fresh.
Fresh mozzarella has a dear place in our hearts. It is traditionally made with water buffalo milk in Naples, Italy, the motherland of pizza. A traditional pizza margherita has this fresh mozzarella lightly layered over crushed tomatoes and dotted with fresh basil. It’s light and tangy and addicting. The same mozzarella is great for caprese, tossed into pastas, layered with grilled vegetables, or to just steal a few bites straight out of the fridge.
Ours is made with cow’s milk- it is not possible to import water buffalo milk or curds- and is made at least three times a week. That means the very oldest ball you get can only have been made two days prior. That’s not too shabby if you ask me, especially when we consider how long industrially made “fresh” mozzarella has been sitting in its poor little tub of salted water.
We started making our house mozzarella 2 years ago. The best mozz maker we had was our high school employee, Steve. He even got a write up in the Salt Lake Tribune about his mozzarella, you can read it here. Sadly, he’s leaving us this summer to go to school in Arizona, but he’s trained a number of our current staff to make mozzarella at his standard. It’s nearly impossible to keep them in stock these days, especially now that the farmer’s market is in full swing and an early crop of tomatoes has arrived.
If you happen to come in while we’re making them, don’t pass up the chance to take one home. The difference between day old and week old- or month old, God forbid- is astounding; a fresh ball is milky, full flavored, and the texture in unlike anything. You’ll notice as days pass that the cheese begins to loose flavor, become firmer, and are simply not as exciting to stuff in your face.
So, you buy the mozzarella and you immediately inhale half of it (this is normal, do not panic). Then, you feel bad and decide to make something with the leftover pieces rather than stand in front of the fridge and inhale the rest. So what’s easy, delicious, and perfect for the season?? CAPRESE! Not silly Americanized caprese; real, simple, easy, delicious caprese. There are five ingredients and it takes about two minutes to put together. Make it, love it, love you mozz maker, repeat.
- One ball mozzarella (about 1/2 pound), sliced
- One tomato of equal weight to mozzarella, sliced (use an heirloom tomato when available)
- 10-15 basil leaves, julienned or whole
- Extra virgin olive oil, condiment grade
- Sea salt to taste