Large Quantities of Cheese in the Twin Cities
October 13, 2008 10:35 AM   Subscribe

Throwing a home-made pizza party in Minneapolis. Need large quantities of cheese, HELP!

My BF and I are hosting a home-made pizza party this Saturday. At most there will be 50 people coming, and my rough math guesstimates about fifteen 12inch pizzas. Because of this we need lots of cheese, ridiculous amounts of cheese. Without memberships, or know anyone with a membership to places like Costco or Sam's Club where can we purchase large amounts of cheese in the Twin Cities? Surdyk's and other gourmet cheese shops are out of the question (gourmet cheese in small quantities will not do the job this time), but if you know something I don't, please let me know.

Unfortunately I do not know exactly how much mozz we'll need, as that too would be a complete guesstimate.
posted by wocka wocka wocka to Shopping (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The best cheese for a home-made pizza is home-made mozzarella. From one gallon of (not ultra-pasteurized) whole milk I'll get about 0.75-1.0lbs of fresh, delicious mozzarella, and it takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. That's enough cheese for about three pizzas. If you order the kit from here today you'll have it in time for your party on Saturday.

If you find a pot that can hold two gallons of milk, you can double the recipe and make enough cheese in just one hour. Fresh, warm mozzarella is amazing. We made lasagna last night with store-bought mozzarella and I definitely noticed the difference.

The catch is finding whole milk that's not ultra pasteurized. We get our milk from the farmers' market, where it's been "regular pasteurized" (I don't know the term), but not "ultra pasteurized".
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:47 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Do you have a Smart and Final store in your area? They don't require a membership, and they sell in bulk.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:51 AM on October 13, 2008

Response by poster: Spikelee -I've been wanting to make my own cheese for awhile and know that Mozz is super easy to make. But in having to get a number of other things made in advance i don't want to add cheese making to the list as i just don't have tie. I will probably order that kit sometime soon foe a more relaxing time.

The Light Fantastic - Unfortunately there is no Smart and Final near Minnesota. :(

Thanks mefites!
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 11:07 AM on October 13, 2008

Best answer: Maybe half an hour across the borner in Wisconsin is Ellsworth, the Cheese Curd Capitol of Wisconsin. Their co-op creamery could probably provide whatever cheese you need in whatever amount, relatively cheaply, and it's a nice drive.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:45 AM on October 13, 2008

I could be way off here, since I've never tried to make pizza in such quantities, but I don't think your cheese needs are going to be so outsize that you will really need to look beyond a regular grocery store or two. One of those 2-cup packages of shredded mozzarella, "pizza cheese," or "italian blend" should be more than enough to cover one 12-inch pizza (yes? no? anybody?), so I would guess you need about a dozen of the 2-cup packages. I know I could easily supply that quantity from just one of the large-ish chain grocery stores in my area, although I might tick off the dairy section stockers.

If you look around the refrigerated case where the shredded cheese is displayed you might also find some larger bulk packages. And I often see the packaged shredded cheeses on sale, so go first to any grocery stores that you have loyalty discount cards at (or check online for the weekly sale items).

You can also buy block mozzarella (not the nice, soft fresh mozzarella but firmer, square-ish, plastic-packed stuff; it comes in one-pound blocks at the grocery stores where I shop) and shred it yourself, but that's a lot of work for the quantity you'll need.
posted by Orinda at 11:52 AM on October 13, 2008

Call a couple pizza places and ask if you can buy a few bags of their pre-shredded pizza cheese.
posted by ian1977 at 11:57 AM on October 13, 2008

large-ish chain grocery stores: the word I was looking for was "supermarkets."
posted by Orinda at 11:59 AM on October 13, 2008

At the local Cub, etc., at least where I shop on the East Side, you can usually find larger bags of pre-shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese. They are in the same area where the regular bags of cheese are, but they are usually in the bottom of the cold case rather than hanging up.

You could also try Cossetta's in St. Paul...since they already sell cheeses and make pizza, they might be willing to sell you their shredded stuff.
posted by cabingirl at 12:16 PM on October 13, 2008

chain stores like BJs, Costco, and Sam's Club usually offer a free trial membership or one day pass. i would go to one of those stores, sign up for the free trial, and then buy everything you need. You may need to cancel the membership, but i am almost positive that both of these places will let you "try out" their stores and receive the low prices (usually with a small surcharge for not being a member).
posted by slograffiti at 12:17 PM on October 13, 2008

Oh, and I think you can go to Costco and ask for a trial pass but I've never done it.
posted by cabingirl at 12:19 PM on October 13, 2008

Aldi. Bring cash or debit card - they don't take credit cards.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:20 PM on October 13, 2008

Sam's Club will let you shop without a membership (or at least they used to) but they add a small markup and won't take anything except cash, check or Discover. Costco won't allow you to shop without a membership (but they don't donate heavily to the Republican party like the Walmart empire, so I hate recommending the other...) Check to see if they still allow this. You might also check for a "food service" type outlet that sells bulk items for stores. Unfortunately the only one I know of offhand is based in Michigan.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:20 PM on October 13, 2008

There must be a commercial food service similar to Gordon's in the Twin Cities area. They have an "open to the public" store and we purchase all our bulk items for our high school softball concessions there.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:36 PM on October 13, 2008

Is it quantity you are worried about or price? Because you can phone a couple of days in advance and order it from most supermarkets.

I suspect you are over estimating the amount of cheese you need, 2oz per serving should be enough. In fact I have a recipe for 24 8oz servings of pizza in front of me and it specifies 2lb 8oz of cheese (which is 1 2/3 oz per person).

I've been able to rustle up enough cheese for a couple of hundred servings (at least) of Mexican food just by walking into supermarkets off the street, so I don't think you will have problems finding the quantities you need.

I cook for these sorts of numbers fairly regularly (and have cooked for many more) so feel free to memail me if you need quantity advice or recipes.
posted by tallus at 1:07 PM on October 13, 2008

A Costco membership really is with the $50 you'll spend on it (many times over), even if you don't normally see yourself buying in bulk. Best store ever.
posted by prozach1576 at 1:21 PM on October 13, 2008

Best answer: I think you are underestimating the number of pizzas you need first of all...a twelve inch one-topping pizza will feed 2 people, 3 if they aren't very hungry. I would guess you'll need around 20-25 12" pies to satisfy your party needs depending on how you plan to top them.

Secondly, I agree with tallus that you might be overestimating the amount of cheese you'll need. I work at a pizza place and we put 15 oz. of cheese on a 16" pie, 10 oz. on a 12" pie and about 5.5 oz on a 8" pie. So you'll probably be able to make about 3 pies with 4 cups of cheese, unless you plan to make many of them double cheese.

Any other pizza questions(dough, etc), feel free to memail me about them.

Above all else though, remember to have fun!!
posted by schyler523 at 1:26 PM on October 13, 2008

If you invite me I will bring a few pounds of cheese...
posted by yellowbkpk at 1:43 PM on October 13, 2008

Best answer: I would guess you could get the real deal (as opposed to plastic envelopes of sad mass-produced mozz shred) in appropriate quantities at Cosetta's Italian Market in St. Paul. I've bought fairly large quantities of pizza ingredients from them in the past. Give them a call and discuss your menu. I'd say 1.5-2 cups shredded mozzarella per 12 inch pie, but I'm of the "don't overdo the ingredients" school of homemade pizza (and you might as well pick their brains about it, they're the pizza experts). They can also hook you up with other ingredients, depending on how homemade you're looking for (they make a mean sauce that they sell in bulk). I'm assuming they're as good as they used to be, it's been a couple years.
posted by nanojath at 1:57 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I´m afraid I´m no use on sourcing, but I agree with schyler523 -- you´re gonna need more pizzas than that. We did a party like this for about 18 people last year, and went through 8 rectangular pizzas the size of a cookie sheet.

A couple of other things that may help you out, generally, though:
1) you can make dough a day or two ahead of time, keeping it in the fridge or even the freezer.

2) A cup to a cup and a half of cheese per pizza is probably plenty if you have other interesting toppings.

3) Consider hosting it as a "bring a topping" party -- not only does it keep your costs down, you get the fun of figuring out how to combine unexpected ingredients in new and delicious ways. Our most unexpectedly awesome discovery was pineapple + Canadian bacon + bleu cheese = crazy delicious.
posted by dr. boludo at 2:50 PM on October 13, 2008

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