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Well, you don't need to make your own mozzarella fresca, but it's super duper easy, fun, and I can't emphasize exactly how mouth watering fresh, homemade mozzarella is when drizzled with a bright, peppery herbaceous extra virgin olive oil such as the Coratina.

Whether you make your own mozzarella fresca or buy it from the market, this fantastic dish is the perfect showcase for the last heirloom tomatoes of the year paired with fresh, dazzling extra virgin olive oil.

Caprese Salad with Coratina & Oregano White Balsamic
1 pound of ripe, preferably heirloom tomatoes, sliced thin
1/3 cup peppery, fresh green extra virgin olive oil such as Coratina
1/4 cup oregano infused white balsamic
2 tablespoons chiffonade cut basil
8 oz. homemade (see recipe below) or store bough mozzarella fresca, drained
sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Arranged sliced tomatoes on a plate.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Whisk balsamic and extra virgin olive oil together.  Place a slice of mozzarella on each slice of tomato and sprinkle with basil chiffonade.  Drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve.

Mozzarella Fresca
1 gallon fresh, local, organic if possible, whole milk – not ultra pasteurized!
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons tartaric acid or citric acid
1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet, found here:  New England Cheesemaking
1 1/4 cups cold, fresh filtered or bottled water

Additional tools needed:

cheesecloth and a thermometer

Mix the tartaric acid with one cup of filtered water and add to the cold milk.  Add the milk to a clean 8+ quart sterilized pot set over medium heat.  Bring the milk to exactly 88 degrees, while stirring frequently.  Mix the rennet with the remaining 1/4 cup of cool water and add to the heated milk.  Mix  the milk continuously for a minute.

Allow the curds to sit undisturbed for 15 minutes until set to the consistency of soft jello.  Use a long knife that reaches to the bottom of the pot and cut a 1" cross thatch pattern in the curds as shown here:

Line a large colander with cheesecloth and gently ladle the curds in to it.  If desired you can retain the liquid why and use it for making baking bread, milkshakes, or just drinking as it is very nutritious and delicious.

Once the curds have drained for 2 minutes, place them in a microwave proof bowl and heat them for 30 seconds. They will be very hot so you may want to use gloves at this stage. Salt the curds with sea salt and then knead them until a smooth mass begins to form. Drain off any extra whey that the curds give off, and repeat the heating one to two more times until you have formed a shiny smooth ball of mozzarella like this:

Place this ball (which should weigh approximately 1 pound) in a bowl of cold lightly salted water until completely cool and then it will be ready to use immediately.  If not using right away, store it submerged, and refrigerated in lightly salted water in a sealed container until ready to use.  Use within four days, although fresher is better!

 

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