Mozzarella experts

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One in every 300 residents of Hamilton County, N.Y., knows how to make mozzarella. Can any other county make that claim?

This was a blast. I had the opportunity to show a group of about 15 youngsters in a girls group from Adirondack Bible Chapel how to make real, honest mozzarella cheese from curd (available from some specialty shops), then turned the process over to them.

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We talked about the differences between homemade mozzarella, so-called “fresh” mozzarella sold in stores and the bricks of mozzarella that go “thud,” sampling all three. We talked about milk sources (cow vs. water buffalo), salting (kosher vs., sea vs. table salt) and how curd gets made, then got to work, breaking down the curd, heating it, then working it back into shape. They were then sliced and used as pizza toppings, as my friend Lisa Swift of Common Grounds Cafe helped them roll dough and handed the baking.

Why make your own, they asked? Price and flavor are a consideration, sure; homemade mozzarella costs about $2.50 a pound. But the best reason is freshness. It’s been said there are 20 great things about mozzarella cheese and it loses one thing every hour.

Straight from the artisan’s hands, fresh mozzarella feels silky, tastes buttery and sweet and nearly melts in your mouth. As it ages, usually in watery clamshell containers in the deli section of the supermarket, it grows firm and leathery, losing all luxurious qualities.

Give me a choice, I’ll take homemade everytime.

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