Buona sera Marco (at least it's evening here). Thank you for posting your reply.
Please have patience and I apologize for my lengthy response, but I am curious about the mozzarella cheese making process and any answers you could provide would be greatly appreciated. There is not a lot of information about making fresh fior-di-latte from scratch (no citric acid, no pre-made curds, etc) near me and any help you could provide would be wonderful.
...but I also do not understand the American way of doing it from curd… This is cheating IMO…
I'm not sure I would exactly call it "cheating", but I am feeling more like you each time I think about home made mozzarella.
the way the milk is curded and fermented with proper rennet and starters, and buy curd that is only scalded and formed is nowhere like make you own mozzarella IMO… When starting from milk, you would need special milk and for instance, Jersey milk is notoriously not good for pasta filata cheese making.
Marco, when you mention "special milk", could you please provide more details on what qualities would make a milk better than another for cheese making? Could you please provide some specifics, if available, for cows milk as we do not have water buffalo anywhere near me.
My initial thoughts are varied and, call it ridiculous, but holistic issues and even "terroir" have to play a part, potentially a major part, in making some milk more suitable for making high quality mozzarella than others. And if a person is going to spend the time, why not make it as high a quality product possible?
I think it is obvious that a certain fat content in the milk would be ideal, but I am not sure what an ideal range would be. Can there be too much? Most of the farms producing raw milk near me (I have to drive 60 to 90 min to find one) mention their cows produce milk with a butterfat content of 4 or 5 percent. One producer claims 6%.
From my extremely limited experiments with making mozzarella, obtaining raw milk (no pasteurization, homogenization, etc) makes a noticeable, favorable difference in the texture and flavor of the finished product. As an aside, I am a firm believer in also looking for raw milk from cows that do not have hormones or chemicals added to their diet and are allowed to free range.
Are there any particular cows that are more suited to producing good milk than others? Most of the farms near me use the Jersey cows or the Jersey Cross cows you mentioned as not being suited for good mozzarella. Marco, I have tasted raw milk from Jersey cows that are only grass fed and from some which are not entirely grass fed (grain supported). I did a blind taste test and the milk from the all grass fed cows did in fact have a more pleasing taste than the cows fed a combination of grass and grain (and prolonged grain feeding is actually harmful to a cow).
We also have farms near me raising and using Normandy/Holstein cows and Dutch Belted cows. I definitely prefer the raw milk from the Dutch Belted cows over the Jersey or Jersey Cross cows I have tasted, but I have not tried the raw milk from the Normandy/Holstein cows as the farm is over two hours away. Are you familiar with Normandy/Holstein cows?
Finally, I mentioned I did prefer milk from 100% grass fed cows. I’ve seen various television shows and have read in magazines such as Culture that certain farmers swear by the type of grass and location of the grass the cow eats as being a major contributor to the taste of the milk. This also has to tie into the soil. How is it any different than wine, where certain terroirs are capable of producing wines individualistic to that area (if the winemaker is skillful and doesn’t interfere too much!).
I know that some claim the mozzarella from around Caserta and Battipaglia is superior to that of other areas. Do you find this to be true Marco? If so, is there a generally known reason why this may be? Do more of the better producers just happen to be around such areas, or do better producers choose to operate in such areas because of some climactic, soil, terrain, etc characteristic which makes the area more suitable than others?
Wow, this has gotten quite long, but any information would be helpful. Are there any books which would be a good reference point for the pasta filata process which may help us?
It is somewhat unrelated, but for me at least it is always a powerful and elightening experience to be able to go all the way to the source of where products come from when we are not able to produce/grow them ourselves. There is a very simple joy to putting your hands on a living creature, seeing where and how it lives, tasting the milk that comes out of them and meeting the people who operate a farm and talking to them.
Thank you again and take care. --K