Oct 9, 2012

Cheese of the World - Part Twelve

Mozzarella cheese is arguably the most popular cheese in the world. From the cheese polls I've seen it edges out cheddar by a fraction of a point. But here's a fact I'll bet you didn't know about mozzarella, traditionally it was made using the milk from the water buffalo. Seriously!

The name Mozzarella comes from the Italian verb mozzare, which means to cut off. It describes the spinning and cutting method of making several varieties of Italian cheese. Of course milk from a water buffalo being pretty expensive, it's rare to find traditional mozzarella outside of Italy. These days this soft, fresh cheese is more likely to be made from cow's milk.

Legend has it that the first mozzarella was created by accident in a Naples cheese factory when some curds fell into a pail of hot water and formed into a ball of cheese. It's also believed that mozzarella was first made after the introduction of the water buffalo to southern Italy. Because the milk is high in fat and protein it was undesirable for drinking, but perfect for making cheese. Some believe Hannibal brought the first water buffalo to Italy, others believe they were left behind from Arab invasions, and still others say they were brought over from India.

Whether it was made from water buffalo or cows, the milk used was unpasteurized and early mozzarella was a fresh, as opposed to aged, cheese, making it extremely perishable. Only the very wealthy, or those who lived close to where the cheese was made, had mozzarella available to them, so it wasn't widely known until the later part of the 18th century.

Mozzarella's most distinguishing feature, aside from the milk it's made from, is its stringy texture. Once the whey has been discarded, the curds are strung or twisted, then cut and immersed in water to firm it up.

Today there are four kinds of mozzarella. Filata, or stretched mozzarella, which is made from cow's milk and has a creamy, soft texture. Pressed mozzarella, which is denser and contains less moisture, making it not stringy. Fior di Latte, which has the highest moisture content (usually around 60%) and is soft, mild, and tastes like fresh milk. Mozzarella di Bufala, which is made from the milk of the water buffalo.

The most popular use for mozzarella is as a pizza topping or in lasagne. But it can also be used in a variety of recipes, including salads, soups, and pasta dishes. It can be sliced, diced, or shredded and added to your favourite casserole.


Mozzarella Puffs
Baked Pasta with Zucchini and Mozzarella
Sausage Mozzarella Supper For a Crowd Bruschetta Chicken Bake
Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Mozzarella
Balsamic Chicken and Fresh Mozzarella
Chicken Rice Casserole with Mozzarella
Mozzarella Melanese Cheese Sticks
Macaroni and Mozzarella Cheese
Easy Honey-Mustard Mozzarella Chicken
Basil, Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwich
Baked Tomatoes with Mozzarella Cheese
Cauliflower and Cheese Bake
Pita Pizza
Chicken Alfredo Pizza
Pizza On the Grill
Veal Mozzarella

Mozzarella is very easy and quick to make, perfect as a beginner's cheese for anyone wanting to get into cheese making. I actually found a great video on YouTube and also some easy to follow written instructions from About Home Cooking.

You can also buy mozzarella anywhere cheese is sold, or try one of these online stores: igourmet.com has traditional Mozzarella di Bufala Campana available in the U.S.
Laverstoke Park Farm appears to be a U.K. source for mozzarella.
Springbank Cheese Company has five different varieties for those living in Canada.

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