Author Topic: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?  (Read 7713 times)

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Offline JasonZA

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What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« on: December 28, 2005, 01:25:41 PM »
Hello Everyone!

I'm with Mozzarella Fresca and am looking for your thoughts/opinions regarding fresh mozzarella.  We started as a gourmet producer and really value the thoughts and opinions of folks like you.  We are always working to make our cheese better and I contacted Pete-zza after reading his post about our recent awards with thanks and some questions.  He suggested I address my questions to the entire group.

- Are you currently using fresh mozzarella?  Why/why not?
- What do you look for in fresh mozz (taste profile, shelf life, ease of purchase, size, etc.)
- Which company's fresh mozz are you currently using?
- How can we make our fresh mozzarella better?

Thanks for your help!

Jason


Offline scott r

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2006, 12:48:15 AM »
Jason, I would love to test out some of your mozzarella. Could you tell me if there is a wholesaler or retailer of your cheese in the Boston area?

I have found a number of small local manufacturers here around Boston. I also have access to Bel Gioioso, Grande, Poly o, Calabro and a few others.  I have done a lot of testing on all of these brands and have come up with a few things that I like and dislike.

The problem I find with a lot of fresh mozzarella is that it has too mild of a flavor.  I want to taste a buttery milky flavor, not a watery one. 

The problem I find with a few brands of fresh mozzarella is that they can take on an almost plastic consistency when melted.  This issue can be even more noticable with the cryo pack fresh mozzarella types that are starting to pop up in my grocery stores.  This is the "fresh" mozzarella that is not in water.  Still, I find a few brands of the water packed cheese that also melt with too stiff of a consistency.

Another problem I have found with a few types of fresh mozzarella is that when the cheese melts down it almost seems to loose some of its mass.  This can definitely be attributed to a cheese that is past its prime, but some seem to get to this stage faster than others.  I think the moisture content of the cheese also plays a big role in this phenomenon.

In the end I think your biggest enemy is the ordering practices of the stores who carry your cheese.  Unfortunately most grocery stores keep fresh mozzarella on their shelves way too long.  They should order smaller quantities more often.

If you can make a low moisture cheese with maximum flavor and good melting characteristics you should find success!

Offline JasonZA

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2006, 04:05:10 PM »
Hi Scott!

Thanks for your message.  I want to address all your questions/comments so I apologize if I ramble:

I would love to get your thoughts on our cheese!  Mozzarella Fresca is in Whole Foods and Wild Oats in the Boston area.  Let me know if you can't find it and I'll figure out something else.

I agree completely!  Fresh mozzarella, especially the acid mozz prevalent in the US, should taste like a glass of milk, not water.  In my opinion, good fresh mozzarella is mild and moist/milky but should never taste watery.

Consistency is driven by a couple of things but I've found that generally, lower quality manufacturers will often stretch/pull their cheese too much resulting in the plastic-like cheese.  No good! 

As for melting, I've found that the thinner the slice, the better the melting/coverage.  Of course, this is tough with a fresh mozz product!  I personally love the look of spot covered pizza; every pie is different, like a work of art!  However, to address coverage concerns, we have just recently created a new product, called Perlini, that is a 1g fresh mozzarella ball; as close to shredded fresh mozzarella as we've found.  I see this as a breakthrough for replacing shredded LM mozz.

I'm not familiar with the melting cheese losing its mass but I am going to experiment in the kitchen!  I suspect that it is cheese that is past the prime and starting to break down.

Store inventory is a pickle.  As a producer, I want to ensure that there is always inventory in stock for consumers to purchase.  But this must always be balanced by the code date and quality of the product the consumer picks up.  We all know that a bad experience will keep someone away for a long time.  We've mediated this a bit with our production method and recipe which yields a cheese that stays fresher longer but at the end of the day, fresh cheese (or any other fresh product) has time of use concerns.

I'm excited to hear your thoughts on our cheese.  Good luck and talk to you soon!

Jason

Offline scott r

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2006, 12:24:37 AM »
I checked at two whole foods locations and I was told that the fresh mozzarella was calabro.  Let me know which locations have your cheese and I will try it out.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2006, 12:43:36 PM »
Jason,

I personally tend to use fresh mozzarella cheese, especially the soft kind, on Neapolitan style pizzas. I will sometimes combine the fresh mozzarella cheese with the firmer mozzarella cheeses on other types of pizzas, with good results, but usually it is just to use up the cheese so that it doesn't go bad. My personal benchmark is the imported buffalo mozzarella cheese or the domestic versions, both of which I like because of their sweetness and nice texture, even though they may require some drying before using to prevent puddling on the pie. I can also get a high-quality fresh mozzarella cheese from Paula Lambert's Mozzarella Company in nearby Dallas. It tends to be a bit drier than the buffalo mozzarella cheeses but, like the buffalo mozzarella cheeses, it is quite expensive, at around $14 a pound. I usually pick up the cheese directly at the company since I understand that many such cheeses can sit in supermarket cases for two or three weeks.

To play the devil's advocate, I sometimes do wonder whether it is worth the expense and effort to use the buffalo mozzarella and similar fresh mozzarella cheeses, including your company's, except perhaps on special occasions or in trying to get some measure of authenticity when making Neapolitan style pizzas. Arguably, the cheese is just a fairly neutral backdrop against which the pie maker builds a unique creation, using the cheese to capture, hold and distribute the flavors and released fats of the toppings (and from the cheese) while providing a contrasting texture and mouthfeel. One can even argue that it is the salt in the cheese that is really what the average person is after (I know that scott and other members often salt their cheeses), and if a distinctive cheese flavor is a high priority, then it would seem that there are far better choices than using a fresh mozzarella cheese, and quite possibly at lower cost. I am sure you hear this line of argument a lot, but I'd be curious to know how you respond to it.

I'd also be curious to know how your biggest pizza users--whom I assume to be professional pizza operators--use your company's fresh mozzarella cheeses. I know that some of the so-called "elite" NY pizza establishments frequently use fresh mozzarella cheeses for their pies, in both the soft and firm forms, but I don't often hear that pizza operators who specialize in, say, the NY street style pizza, use fresh mozzarella cheeses, and especially the softer forms. Can you offer some commentary on how the biggest users of your fresh mozzarella cheeses for pizza actually use them?

I know that some of our members make their own fresh mozzarella cheeses, apparently with very good results. Can you compare your fresh mozzarella cheeses with those? I am not so much thinking about the cost and labor aspects but rather the quality of the cheeses.

Thanks, and welcome to the forum.

Peter


Offline scott r

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2006, 01:32:07 AM »


I'd also be curious to know how your biggest pizza users--whom I assume to be professional pizza operators--use your company's fresh mozzarella cheeses. I know that some of the so-called "elite" NY pizza establishments frequently use fresh mozzarella cheeses for their pies, in both the soft and firm forms, but I don't often hear that pizza operators who specialize in, say, the NY street style pizza, use fresh mozzarella cheeses, and especially the softer forms. Can you offer some commentary on how the biggest users of your fresh mozzarella cheeses for pizza actually use them?

Peter, I have noticed in the past few years that many NY street style pizzerias have begun to use fresh mozzarella for a specialty pie.  In many parts of NY and NJ (not just manhattan) these places are offering a Margherita pie.  This pie uses their normal Lehmann NY style crust, their normal sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh tomatoes on top, and many times basil and garlic.  It seems like this style of pie is gaining popularity.  I have even seen a few of these places call the pie a Neapolitan style pizza.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2006, 01:34:01 AM by scott r »

Offline JasonZA

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2006, 05:19:27 PM »
Hi Guys,

Sorry for the delay, I'm in the midst of a travel spurt.  I'll try to answer both Scott and Peter.

Scott, we are in all Trader Joes.  We sell branded Mozzarella Fresca product but also make all their Trader Joes labelled fresh mozzarella.  Famosa Foods is also a local distributor that carries our products.

Peter, Scott is right.  Fresh mozzarella is gaining popularity for specialty pies.  To my knowledge, no major chain is making a fresh mozz pie though I expect that this will be changing soon.  Margherita is the classic for fresh mozz but I have seen an increase in fresh mozz on other pies.  From a cost standpoint, fresh mozz will never compete with LM mozz.  However, I believe there are four drivers for using fresh mozzarella:

1.  Looks - using fresh mozzarella to create a pizza delivers a spot melt look; very much like what many consumers believe pizza looks like "in the old country."  Also similar to art - every pie is very different.  More artisanal.
2.  Higher dollar ring - As we see the awareness and acceptance of fresh mozzarella soar, consumers are more and more willing to pay a premium for fresh mozzarella.  There are a number of psychological drivers behind this but essentially, consumers believe fresh mozz is of superior quality and "gourmet."
3.  Cache - Along the lines of #2, consumers respond to fresh mozzarella because of the gourmet, chi-chi nature.  A bad analogy might be, comparing Levis to designer jeans; at the end of the day, the Levis are tougher, equally well made and cheaper but don't have the cache.  Fresh mozzarella is in a stronger position vs LM mozz because consumers believe it is "better" made, fresher and understand why the cost is higher.
4.  Less cheese - From a cost standpoint, it is difficult to fully cover a pie with fresh mozz like you do with LM mozz.  Many people develop spot coverage:  Much, but not all, of the pie is covered by cheese.  This ties in with #1 (looks).

That said, I don't believe that fresh mozz will ever be even 25% as large as LM mozz on pizza.  I do believe that usage will continue to grow as retailers strive for differentiation, novelty, quality perception and higher dollar ring.  Woo!  That was a long one!

As for Mozzarella Fresca v hand pulled fresh mozz....I believe that we compare very well.  Eliminating the psychological/emotional bound of making your own cheese (no ugly babies here!), our cheese stands up very well.  Though I'm trying to be unbiased, the most reliable 3rd party that I can easily discuss is performance at the US Cheese Championships and American Cheese Society Awards.  These competitions are national/international and judge different aspects of the cheese.  US C.C. is more focused on the technical aspects of cheese making/tasting and judge along "traditional" expectations/criteria.  American Cheese Society is more about how enjoyable the cheese is, even if it is non-traditional (think caramel infused mascarpone).  Mozzarella Fresca won three Best in Class awards and 3 other medals in 2005 alone!  Some of the products won Best in Class in both shows - Technically superior AND enjoyable.

Many top delicatessens purchase our curd to pull/make into "house" mozzarella to sell.  OK, no more shameless pushing of Mozzarella Fresca (in this note!).  Thanks and please keep the comments and questions coming!

Jason

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2006, 06:13:53 PM »
Jason,

I make my own mozzarella, but I'd be thrilled to find one as good or better off the shelf, for both pizza and eating raw (with tomatoes, olive oil, etc.). That would give more time for making other kinds of cheese. In my experience, freshly made mozzarella has a sweetness and richness that is lost quickly. For the next batch of pies I bake, I'll try some of your product (from TJ's) and report back.

Bill/SFNM

Offline pietradoro

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2006, 07:54:44 PM »
Just jumping in here.... :)

I've used fresh MF often over the past 6 months or so, and find it to be a very, very good cheese. My only caveat is that sometimes I've bought a tub, that was just placed on the shelf (Whole Foods, Los Angeles) and found the flavor to be surprisingly bland for MF.

I've been also using Cantare and am finding the flavor in general to be richer and more consistent from tub to tub.

I notice that there is little or no commentary on these boards about Cantare an wanted to bring awareness of this brand into the thread. 

I certainly don't mean to be contentious especially in light of Jason's openness — just want to vary the topic a bit. Both MF and Cantare are excellent cheeses, but at the current moment I am leaning slightly toward Contare as my personal favorite when not using Bubalus Bubalis Mozzarella di bufala, which is very special indeed. (FWIW, all these are made in California.).

Cheers!

Offline David

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2006, 08:51:08 PM »
Jason,
I really wanted to have some new photo's attached to better explain myself (and comparison),but unfortunately I don't have my oven fired up,or plan to for the next few days,so I've used some I've found-but here are my thoughts about Fresh Mozz as far as I use it / have seen it used.

1)I personally, definitely, hands down prefer the buttery taste of Buffala and the yellow color of it when cooked.

2)Judging from the photos of Pizzas at Da Michelle (Napoli) the Fior di Latte Agerola that they use seems to have very similar visual characteristics when cooked as Buffala?

3)Any pizzas I've made or seen in NY/NJ using Fresh Cows Milk Mozzarella (I've not used yours) all have the same characteristics.It remains pure white when cooked,it sometimes burns slightly,lacks any discerning flavor and either breaks down to a "Lace" like appearance or rigidly retains its shape on the pizza -almost appearing plastic like.

I'm assuming the flavor /color of Buffala is due to a higher butterfat content and reaction to the heat.My particular interest is comparing the characteristics of Neapolitan Fior di Latte and American.Is our Milk so tampered with (or just so different) that it just can not come close,a total pessimist or am I just way off track ?

I hope my ramblings are making sense to some of you out there!
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Offline scott r

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2006, 11:04:43 PM »
David, from what Marco has told me most of the cows milk mozzarella used in the better pizzerias of Naples comes from the area on and around the Sorrentine Peninsula.  I was fortunate enough to stay in Sorrento while I was visiting the area and had a chance to sample the local cheese on a number of occasions, as well as on the pizza in Naples.  I have to admit that it did seem to taste slightly better than what I can find here in the states. 

Fortunately for us the Buffalo Mozzarella is imported here to the states, and the it seemes to taste the same here as it does over there as long as you get it within a week of production.

Unfortunately for us I noticed a huge difference in the quality of the canned tomatoes between the US and the area around Naples.

Offline JasonZA

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2006, 11:11:44 AM »
Good Morning David!

Bufala mozzarella does have a slightly less white color vs cow mozzarella.  A big difference is the milk.  Buffalo milk and cow milk are not that similar.  Much of the difference you are describing is due to fat content, protein content, etc.. In fact, buffalo milk is difficult to drink/digest which is why most of the milk is made into cheese or other by product items.

Cow milk mozzarella is now far and away the majority of the fresh mozz made.  Another explanation to your observations are the type of fresh mozzarella.  Mozzarella di Bufala is a cultured cheese:  The buffalo milk is curdled by the addition of starter culture (which forms lactic acid which curdles the milk).  The vast majority of cows milk mozzarella is acid based (organic acid is added directly to the milk to curdle).  Cultured cheese has more tang but is more difficult to ship, etc..  Get too far out of the temp spec, during shipping/storage and your cultures fire back up and leave you with overly soft, mush.  Mozzarella Fresca makes both but the American consumers purchases much more acid than cultured.

Hope that helps!

Jason

Offline David

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2006, 12:36:07 PM »
Cultured cheese has more tang but is more difficult to ship, etc..  Get too far out of the temp spec, during shipping/storage and your cultures fire back up and leave you with overly soft, mush.  Mozzarella Fresca makes both but the American consumers purchases much more acid than cultured.

Hope that helps!

Jason
[/quote

Thanks Jason,
What cultured cheese do you offer (Brands)and where can I try it in the NY / NJ area
If you're looking for a date... go to the Supermarket.If you're looking for a wife....go to the Farmers market

Offline JasonZA

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2006, 05:03:29 PM »
Hi David,

Again, I apologize for the delay; more travels!  We sell our cultured product under the "Ital Cheese" brand name and have focused our distribution growth, on this item only, in the Western States.  We don't currently sell our Ital products in NY/NJ.  Our other products are available through Sysco and bringing in the cultured is possible, we just haven't pursued it yet.  Regarding trying our cultured cheese, I'll put my thinking hat on and figure something out so you can try it.  Thanks!

Jason

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2006, 05:15:18 PM »

We sell our cultured product under the "Ital Cheese" brand name and have focused our distribution growth, on this item only, in the Western States. 


Jason,

Is there somewhere in northern New Mexico where I can buy "Ital Cheese". Does Nobel/Sysco in ABQ carry it? Thanks.

Bill/SFNM

Offline JasonZA

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2006, 05:31:39 PM »
Hi Bill,

Yes, our Ital and Mozzarella Fresca products are carried by Sysco Foods New Mexico (formerly Nobel/Sysco).  In our cultured, Ital product, they carry our Ital Cheese Ciliegine (1/3 oz balls), Bocconcini (1 1/3 balls) and Ovaline (4oz balls).  I'd love to hear what you think!  Please let me know if you get any push back or have any problems.  Thanks!

Jason

Offline scott r

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2006, 03:46:24 AM »
Jason, the cultured cheese is really what intrests me as well.  If it is closer to buffalo mozzarella in flavor I can pretty much guarantee I would prefer it to just about all the other fresh cows milk mozzarella out there.  I am guessing that the cultured cheese is not available here in Boston.

Offline Jo

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2006, 09:59:21 PM »
I have tried making mozzarella at home for the past year. What I have noticed with the mozzarella that I make at home (either citric acid-based or DVI culture-based) is that the coverage is always bad. Give the cooked pizza a few minutes rest and the cheese takes on a transparent look (after 1 hour, as a test, it looks like no cheese was added!). This does not happen with the typical "pizza cheese" you buy at the stores.

I went to India recently (where I am running a small pizza shop as an experiment), and tried making mozzarella with buffalo milk (the standard milk in north India). Had the same results, and a pretty bland cheese. The local branded mozzarella there has the same problem, and is tasteless; hence my quest to make a quality, tasty mozzarella there if I can't buy good cheese.

I took some pizza cheese from here where I live (Tokyo, Japan), and made pizzas in India as a test. The taste was totally different (very good); and here I was blaming the dough and the sauce.

Any suggesions or tips appreciated.

Jo

Offline jasonr

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2006, 09:22:56 AM »
Jason, I have used a few different brands of fresh buffalo mozzerela, one that was flavored with truffles, and simply love the stuff for caprese salad, or just to eat on its own. But I don't use it for my pizzas. One of the reasons is simply that I find it very difficult to cut and spread. The stuff is so moist, that even after patting it with a towel, if you try to slice it too finely, it goes to mush. And forget about shredding it like you would the vaccum packed stuff.

In terms of taste, I was just disappointed with it on my pizza. Even using the expensive truffle based stuff, I just didn't find it that great on my pizza. Moreover, my friend worked at an Italian pizzaria in Montreal with the wood burning oven and everything (one with what I consider to be the best pizza I have ever tasted) and he told me that they did not use fresh mozzarella. If they don't need to use it, why should I?

No offense, but I just can't justify using fresh on my pizzas. It just doesn't seem appropriate. And at a cost of $10 -  $12 (CA) per ball (admittedly, that may not be your company's price) with one ball being less than half of what I would want to put on a standard 12 inch pizza, it's not exactly cheap either! (A large ball of Silani 25% M.F. 52% Humid., which is enough for 1 1/3 large pizzas, goes for about $5.00 CA)
« Last Edit: January 22, 2006, 09:25:43 AM by jasonr »

Offline gottabedapan

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Re: What makes great Fresh Mozzarella?
« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2006, 11:08:12 AM »
Moreover, my friend worked at an Italian pizzaria in Montreal with the wood burning oven and everything (one with what I consider to be the best pizza I have ever tasted) and he told me that they did not use fresh mozzarella. If they don't need to use it, why should I?

That's like saying. "Craig McTavish never wore a hockey helmet, so why should I?"

Cost, taste, and ease of handling are legitimate reasons to decide not to use fresh mozz on a pie, but the fact that your favorite pizza place doesn't use fresh mozz is NOT a legitimate argument for deciding whether or not YOU should use fresh mozz on YOUR pies. Does the fact that they use a wood-burning oven mean you shouldn't make pizzas at home if you don't have a wood-burning oven?

If you're paying $10-12 for fesh mozz, you must be shopping at gourmet food boutiques, 'cuz I was paying $6 for .5 kilo at the Kitchner Farmer's Market last summer.


 

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