Mozzarella is the most recognizable and third most often bought Italian cheese, after Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano. It is always associated with Italian cuisine, a necessary addition to pizza, but it also fits perfectly with any casserole or sandwich. Together with tomato and basil, it makes the famous Caprese salad. Its main advantage is its delicate flavor and creamy, velvety texture.
Mozzarella is a rennet cheese from southern Italy.
Rennet cheeses are a type of cheese that is obtained by denaturing milk with rennet - a digestive enzyme, a large amount of which is present in the mucosa of the calf's stomach. Currently, in addition to natural rennet, microbiological and genetically modified rennet is used.
Mozzarella comes from southern Italy but has also been produced in central Italy since the 15th century.
Today, the production of this cheese is widespread throughout Italy and in many countries in the world.
It is difficult to determine when mozzarella began to be made. Surely the production of this cheese has a long history.
History says that the Romans already in the second half of the 1st century BC were the first in the world to make cheese from sheep's milk. Mozzarella is supposed to have a somewhat later origin. According to legend, in the 3rd century AD, the Italian monks of San Lorenzo di Capua made mozza cheese. The name means "break-off", possibly indicating that the layers of this cheese are easy to separate. There are also suggestions that mozzarella is named after the word "mozzatura", which describes the process of making cheese by breaking up pieces of cheese into smaller pieces.
Initially, mozzarella was made from sheep's milk.
When buffalo breeding spread in Italy in the Middle Ages, they were valued mainly for their strength as draft animals. Later, buffalo milk began to be used to make cheese. Since then, dairy products made of buffalo milk have become a permanent part of the menu of Italian cuisine.
Today, mozzarella is made from cow's and buffalo's milk.
In addition to cheeses made from buffalo milk alone or cow's milk alone, you can make cheese from blended milk. In this case, producers are required to specify the percentage of milk used in production. Although these are niche productions, mozzarella with sheep's milk (pecorino) and rarely with goat's milk also happen.
Compared to cow's milk, buffalo milk has a richer, creamier consistency.
This is due to the higher fat content. The taste of buffalo milk is very mild, smooth, velvety. In terms of sweetness, it is similar to cow's milk. Thanks to the presence of a natural enzyme - peroxidase - it stays fresh longer.
Buffalo milk has a higher calorific value than cow's milk. But more fat in this milk does not mean that it is negative - two-thirds of them are mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Especially important is the high level of conjugated linoleic acid, which has anti-inflammatory and heart-protective properties.
Buffalo milk contains large amounts of tocopherol - a form of vitamin A, as well as valuable mineral salts, especially phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron. Moreover, it is a good source of protein and B vitamins (B1, B2, B3 and B12).
Buffalo milk contains more lactose than cow's milk.
However, it is sometimes better tolerated by people who are intolerant to this sugar. Due to its mineral composition, it is also a valuable product in the prevention of osteoporosis, and strengthens the teeth. Due to the high calcium content and relatively low cholesterol content, it protects against cardiovascular diseases.
There is an additional aspect in favor of the use of buffalo milk products. Well, buffaloes are a species of animals much more resistant to disease, so they are not fed with antibiotics to the same extent as cattle usually do. They are also bred in a much less intensified, industrial way.
The most valued variety of mozzarella - mozzarella di bufala campana - is made from buffalo milk.
This cheese is produced in designated areas of the regions: Campania, Lazio, Apulia, and Molise, according to traditional historical recipes from the city of Aversa in the province of Caserta. It is on the list of products with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).
It is a porcelain-white cheese with a creamy texture. The liquid in which Mozzarella di Bufala Campana is immersed protects the cheese, which has a delicate crust and a liquid center. This liquid is sour and salty, it keeps the cheese's flavor and aroma.
Mozzarella di bufala is traditionally made exclusively from the milk of the Italian Mediterranean buffalo. (Bufala Mediterranea Italiana).
It is the Italian breed of water buffalos (Bubalus bubalis), also called domestic buffalos or Asian water buffalos. These buffaloes could have been brought from Asia to Italy during the Roman times or during the barbarian invasions of the Italian peninsula.
Mediterranea Italiana is black with dark gray skin and black hooves. Sometimes white spots may appear on the head, lower legs or tail.
In the production of Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, a maximum of 60 hours may elapse from the milking of the buffaloes to the start of cheese production.
The milk is then acidified by adding rennet thereto. It must come from a buffalo from the same, or a nearby farm.
After heating to a temperature of 33-39 degrees Celsius, calf rennet is added, thanks to which the milk coagulates and solidifies. The resulting curd is mixed with boiling water, in which the curd melts, merges with the water, and becomes stretchy.
The cheese maker gently forms (like a baker kneads the bread dough - a process called pasta filata), cuts the cheese, and then places it in cold water. This treatment makes the skin harder, and the center remains soft. Such cheese can be put in brine and packaged. The liquid in which the cheese is placed is its protective layer. It is a mixture of brine and acid that protects the taste and texture of the cheese.
Mozzarella, which is made from cow's milk, is called Fior di latte.
The cost of producing such cheese is lower. Unless the mozzarella is clearly labeled as being of buffalo milk, it was certainly made from cow's milk.
There is also smoked mozzarella - mozzarella affumicata.
Sheep's milk mozzarella, sometimes called "mozzarella pecorella", is typical of Sardinia, Abruzzo and Lazio, where it is also called "mozzapecora".
It is made with the addition of lamb rennet.
Mozzarella received the Traditional Specialties Guaranteed (GTS) certificate from the European Union in 1998.
This system requires mozzarella sold in the EU to be produced according to a traditional recipe. The certification does not specify the source of the milk, but suggests it to be whole milk.
Mozzarella made with buffalo milk is made in many countries, including Switzerland, the United States, Australia, Colombia, Thailand, Egypt, India, and Turkey.
All producers use local buffalo milk. According to some, Italy and Bulgaria have the best milk buffalos. Mozzarella Çaycuma and mozzarella Kandıra are Turkish buffalo milk cheeses.
There is 288 kcal in 100 grams of buffalo mozzarella.
Cow's milk mozzarella is less caloric, 100 g contains 253 kcal.
Italy exports 100,000 tons of mozzarella per year.
It is the third most-bought Italian cheese, after Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano.