The Process of Making Authentic Mozzarella At A Central London Dairy
La Latteria was created in 2015 to offer genuine and high quality artisanal Italian cheeses, produced locally (in London) while remaining true to their Italian origins. How is this achieved? By bringing the most skilled artisans to London who use the most authentic recipes and methods to re-create a piece of Italy right in the heart of London – a perfect example of the food production in city centres predicted in 2016 trends.
Simona Di Vietri, founder and Managing Director of La Latteria, after a career in finance in London and the Middle East, decided to abandon that path. Cheesemaking was in her blood – her family had already set up a successful artisanal business in Milan. Here she tells us a bit about how she came to set up La Latteria and about the process of making mozzarella.
I grew up in Southern Italy, a world composed of tradition and simple, authentic food. I still have vivid memories of my father and I going to our local latteria (the inspiration for my brand name) to buy my favourite mozzarella.
Now London has been my home for almost two decades, but despite all the amazing culinary experiences you can have here, what I missed most and what I didn’t want my children to miss, was the authentic experience of Italian cheeses. It is the experience of ultimate freshness. One where the warmth of the cheese is still felt through the packaging because it has just been made by the casaro.
La Latteria is committed to offering made-to-order products, delivered daily to customers’ door steps. The milk is sourced from small trusted British farmers (renowned for producing some of the highest quality cow milk in the world) and the dairy itself is located in West London, ensuring the shortest supply chain, with production to consumption within hours.
The production cycle for mozzarella normally starts in the very early morning (often in the middle of the night) when the milk arrives from the farm. Our artisan will check and prepare the milk. Then slowly and mildly the milk is steamed, like a giant warm cappuccino.
A starter is added to initiate the coagulation process. The entire mixture is stirred very quickly with a huge perforated spoon. Half an hour later, the surface of each tub becomes a compacted and shiny white mass, which must be broken up into a myriad of small pieces with large whisk (frangi cagliata). This operation requires skill, rapidity and a great deal of strength. There are only a few places, like La Latteria, where this work is still done by hand.
Now it’s time for the cheese maker to test the cagliata and make sure it has ripened to the perfect point for the spinning. With a knife-like instrument, the cheese master pulls out a bit of cagliata and dips it into hot water to see how it reacts. If the cheese melts and stretches as it should, the final phase to begin. Few pieces of curd are placed in the traditional barrel (mastello) and boiling water is poured into the barrel where the soon-to-be mozzarella is quickly mixed again with a long sturdy wooden stick (stecca).
With skillful movements of both hands, the cheesemaker lifts and pulls the melted mass with the stecca, stretches and squeezes the paste. Then using his thumbs and index fingers, he cuts off (‘mozza’ means ‘to cut’) the cheese into balls (campagnola and bocconcini) or entwines the mozzarella to give it the traditional nodini (knots) or treccia (braid) shape. Immediately thereafter, the final product is immersed in cooling trolleys filled with cold water, from where it’s packaged and dispatched to final customers.
Recipes using mozzarella: