The White Queen From Italy
Did you know that we actually have a queen in Italy? She’s white, fresh, milky and worshipped by many Italians. She loves to be surrounded by tomatoes, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. When she is caressed by pizza, then she literally melts away! Do you know her name?
Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Her Royal Highness, Mozzarella di Bufala! She is the queen of Italian cheese made with the prized milk of the water buffalo of southern Italy. We have invited a professional cheese taster to tell us all about it.
What Is It Used For?
First things first, technically the word mozzarella should really only be used when referring to buffalo mozzarella. Regular mozzarella made from cow’s milk is usually called fior di latte (flower of milk). However, mozzarella is generally used as an umbrella term for both types with the buffalo mozzarella version being specified as mozzarella di bufala.
In Italy, buffalo mozzarella is used for many different dishes. It can be served fresh with tomatoes in a caprese salad or with cured prosciutto, or it can be cooked in eggplant parmigiana, used as a topping for pizza, or even sandwiched and fried in the traditional mozzarella in carozza.
Buffalo mozzarella is such an important product that it has earned DOP classification (Protected Designation of Origin) which identifies foods that are produced from start to finish in a specific geographical area. Looking for this label not only guarantees that the product is genuine and of a certain quality, but it also recognizes the skill and experience of local producers and protects these traditions for generations to come. Buffalo mozzarella is produced in certain areas of southern Italy, predominantly in Campania but also in parts of the regions of Lazio, Molise, and Puglia.
What Is Mozzarella di Bufala?
Due to its high level of casein (a milk protein), water buffalo milk is hard to digest in its raw form which means that it is not consumed as a beverage in Italy. It is, however, used in the dairy industry to make cheeses such as mozzarella, burrata, and ricotta, as well as yogurt and even gelato.
Buffalo mozzarella is more flavorful and succulent than cow milk mozzarella which has a milder taste and springier texture. Both are produced in the same way using the method of pasta filata (stretched curd). The cheese is stretched out before being lopped into pieces, in Italian this process of cutting the cheese is called the mozzatura from the verb mozzare which means to lop off or chop off and is where mozzarella gets its name.
Mozzarella di bufala can be shaped into many different forms, from large balls to small bocconcini or mouthfuls, little knots called nodini or even large plaited forms called trecce.
Recipes and Our Online Cooking School
Buffalo mozzarella’s unique taste and consistency make it a versatile ingredient that adds flavor and quality to any dish. It is not for nothing Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP is used to make the real, authentic certified pizza from Naples: Pizza Napoletana STG (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed).
However, to truly experience the beauty of mozzarella di bufala you should try it served fresh, in a simple caprese. Just layer slices of ripe, juicy tomato with pieces of mozzarella and top with fresh basil leaves, a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil and a little pepper if you wish. Serve with plenty of bread to soak up the delicious juices. It’s a real taste of Italian summer!
If you are planning to serve your mozzarella fresh, remember to take it out of the refrigerator 30 minutes beforehand to bring it to room temperature. This will ensure that it is perfectly flavorsome and juicy. Store buffalo mozzarella in the fridge covered in its own liquid to prevent it from drying out; remember that good mozzarella should be so moist that it ‘cries’ so the fresher you eat it, the better it will taste.
For more recipes, techniques, tricks, and hints why not sign up for our amazing online cooking school? Our in-depth courses cover pasta and gnocchi, with even more to come! Check out Italian Home Cooking (made simple!) and come join us in the virtual Local Aromas kitchen!.