Stir. Stretch. Shape. There’s an art of making mozzarella that’s satisfyingly beautiful as our DLM Fresh Handmade Mozzarella takes its final form. It’s a symphony of technique, rhythmic stretching that results in the classic composition of simple ingredients yielding a final masterpiece. “There is mozzarella. And then there is fresh mozzarella,” says Erika Cuellar, The DLM Cheese Shop Manager at our Washington Square location. “We believe in providing the freshest product possible … so we make it in-house.” This is why in 2006, we studied, we experimented, and we decided to distinguish ourselves by regularly making mozzarella by hand. This is the DLM Difference.
THE ART OF MAKING MOZZARELLA
A SYMPHONY OF TECHNIQUE
If you’re lucky to stroll past our Cheese Shop at the right time, you’ll see this process with your own eyes as you round the corner to find one of our cheesemongers gently stretching about 10 pounds of curd into warm, buttery mozzarella.
Legend has it that this soft, moist cheese was first created by happenstance in Italy when curd fell into a pail of boiling water. If that’s the case, then we will certainly call it a happy accident. Fresh mozzarella has a milky taste and contains 52% moisture or higher. We start by warming water to just about boiling. Then, we begin soaking the curd.
After breaking down the curd into small pieces, it’s then given warm water baths. When you ask Maritza Cuellar-Crowdy, who manages The DLM Cheese Shop at our Springboro location, questions like “how long does it sit in the water?” or “how do you know when it’s ready to stretch,” the answer is not as clear-cut as one may think. It’s a marriage of intuition and technique, with our cheesemongers conducting the process. “Mozzarella is about timing and the actual stretching of it,” Maritza explains. “We focus on how it feels … not how it looks.”
After the curd feels ready, what ensues is perhaps the most important step. The stretching. To watch is soothing and inexplicably beautiful. It’s amazing to see how with each slow, deliberate movement, the actual consistency of the cheese changes. “If you overstretch it, it’ll be tough. If you don’t stretch it enough, you won’t get that smooth consistency,” Maritza says. “If you let it sit too long (before stretching), it’ll change your end result. Timing and stretching go hand in hand.”
Watching our cheesemongers stretch mozzarella is like watching a violinist shift their bow back and forth, truly the art of making mozzarella. Then, just like that, it’s ready.
SHAPING SOMETHING MARVELOUS
After the consistency is just right, the next step is to shape it into ovalini, ciliengine, and snackable sticks, and getting it closer to being ready for our wonderful customers. Each freshly shaped mozzarella then sits in a salty brine before it’s packaged and ready to hit the shelves in The DLM Cheese Shop.
The ovalini are perfect for slicing and layering onto your pizza, sandwich, or creating that quintessential caprese salad—Erika’s favorite. Caprese is composed of freshly sliced tomato (like the local ones that are here now), fresh basil, and handmade mozzarella all finished with a drizzle of Vera Jane’s Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and our DLM Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. Nothing quite compares to this summertime classic. Find Chef Carrie’s recipes for variations of this classic dish here!
Ciliengine are the size of cherry tomatoes and you’ll find them pre-packed with about eight to a container. These are the perfect bite-sized shape to add to many popular salad or pasta recipes. Or, there are several fun summer kebab snacks. You’ll also find our handmade fresh mozzarella logs, or sticks, for the mozzarella lover on the go.
Regardless of which shape you choose, we can guarantee that what you take home from DLM is something that is truly a food experience, from the creation of it to the end product that we’ve lovingly made for your plate. “When we say ‘fresh,’ we want you to see that we mean fresh,” says Maritza. It’s that commitment to providing a deeper experience to the food that provides us with the greatest joy and sense of pride.