Mozzarella is a traditional cheese in Southern Italy and it is originally made from milk of Italian buffalo’s that are usually herded in countries such as Italy and Bulgaria. But today, the Mozzarella cheese available in the market are made from cow’s milk.
According to a legend, Mozzarella cheese was created when cheese curds fell accidentally into a pail of hot water in a cheese factory near Naples. There are indeed some cheeses that are created accidentally, therefore, this legend might be true.
The earliest recorded creation of Mozzarella is in the 12th century, though it is entirely possible and even likely that it existed for time before this. It was in Italy near Naples where Mozzarella was first made from the rich milk of water buffalos. Since it wasn’t made using pasteurized milk, it had a very short shelf-life and it seldom left the southern region of Italy where it was made. But as the technology advances, the refrigeration and transportation for cheeses have been developed so that they could be spread to other regions of Italy.
The name Mozzarella came from the Neapolitan dialect spoken in Campania. Mozza meaning “cut” or mozzare meaning “to cut off”. It is also a guaranteed traditional specialty cheese because it proudly bears the STG emblem if produced in full compliance with local rules. This is the reason why even though there are similar variations of cheeses, they still cannot be called Mozzarella, that’s why they just mimic it such as pizzarella or mozzabella.
Up to this day, it is widely known that the best artisanal produced buffalo Mozzarella is still in south of Naples near Battipaglia and Caserta. It is where small factories still continue to make fresh Mozzarella cheeses using centuries-old traditions for their local customers.
Making Mozzarella Cheese
When it comes to making Mozzarella cheese, there are two basic ways you can do which are direct acidification of the milk to form the curds, or the culture method. In both of these methods, the first thing to do is to pasteurize the raw milk, then coagulated to form curds. When the curds reach 5.2 pH, they are then cut into small pieces and are mixed with hot water. After that, they are strung, until long ropes of cheese form.
Once it reaches the proper smoothness and elastic consistency, the curds are then formed by machine or hand into balls which are tossed into cold water, helping them maintain their shaped while cooling. After that, they are salted and packaged. This is a short making process and it usually just takes less than 8 hours from raw milk to finished cheese.
However, the critical part of the process is knowing the exact time the cheese is mature and ready to the strung. It’s because of you wait too long, it can become mushy, and if you strung too early, it can become a tough dry cheese.
Characteristics of Mozzarella Cheese
Mozzarella belongs to the family of Italian cheeses. It is a rind-less, white, vegetarian, and milky cheese with a fresh aroma. There are two types of Mozzarella cheese being produced in the United States. One is the low moisture mozzarella which has a moisture content of less than 50%. The other one is the high moisture mozzarella which has more than 52% moisture.
Aside from the two types, there are also other varieties such as fresh Mozzarella which is one of those easy-to-make-at-home cheeses. Other varieties are Mozzarella Fior di Latte which is produced using fresh, pasteurized or unpasteurized cow milk, and Mozzarella affumicata which is a smoked Mozzarella.
A superior fresh Mozzarella cheese should taste fresh and reminiscent of milk. It should also be mild and delicate, which what others say bland, yet there is flavor. If its curd is more elastic and springy, it means that it is fresher.
Mozzarella Cheese Pairings
Mozzarella cheese is best served as snacks. They are also great on pizzas or in salads, meats, seafood, and vegetables. Aside from those foods, they are also best paired with wines. This fresh, milky cheese is great with light, dry, and sparkling Champagne. They also complement well with a bold Merlot because of its medium body and balanced fruits and tannins which Mozzarella cheese can bring to life.
Mozzarella cheese is definitely one of the most delicious cheese we have. It is a fresh and tasty cheese that kids and adults will love to have as snacks, and can surely give a great taste and feel to pizzas as well.