I was a little more nervous of trying my hand at making mozzarella for the first time than either the mascarpone or the ricotta for some reason. Making mozzarella involves melting and then stretching curds, and I suppose that it was this extra step that made me a little less certain of myself. It also felt a little more like "proper" cheese as this was the first one that involved the use of rennet. Why this should be the defining factor, I don't know, but making this it felt like I was stepping over a threshold.
The process started out well, but in the curdling stage, my curds didn't set into as much of a jelly like texture as the picture in the instructions suggested that it should. I therefore left the curds to set for a little longer before straining them. The other part I wasn't sure about was the stretching of the curds. I did it until they felt smooth, as instructed. Even with rubber gloves on, this was a rather warm process (the curds are immersed in 70°C water). I am used to working with rubber gloves at work, but I managed to buy some with little round grips on the thumb and fingers which altered my sensation of touch considerably, which was irritating. Anyway, I stretched and folded the curds until I though I had achieved what I was directed to achieve and them let them sit in cold water for a quarter hour.
The result was disappointing but not bad for a first attempt. The balls of cheese were a bit on the tough side and a little bland, but at least on par with the cheaper store bought stuff. I wonder if I over stretched them in my anxiety to get it right, or if I over melted the curds before stretching them? I will try again soon and attempt to be gentler on the curds, and will then report back on the results.
As the mozzarella wasn't the best snacking cheese, I decided to use it melty-ways, and made puff pastry pockets with mozzarella, dates, and the remainder of my beet and pomelo sauce pulled from the freezer for the occasion. They were beautiful! The mozzarella melted to perfection and played well with the other flavours. The cheese and puff pastry balanced out the sauce, and the dates added a hint of sweetness. (I know it sounds like an odd combination, but it was truly delightful!). We liked it so much in fact, that the next day I used the rest of the pastry to make faux croissants (wrong dough, but close enough) with more of the sauce and mozzarella, but no dates. The pastry was flaky, the cheese melty and rich and the sauce sweet and tangy. Definitely trying that again in future, although hopefully not because my cheese doesn't improve!