How Mozzarella Cheese Came to Be
Cheese makes everything better. There is no other topping that has been shown as much love and appreciation than cheese has by different cuisines from around the world. From Mexican to Italian cuisine, cheese is a crucial element that not only compliments an exquisite dish but the right cheese can transform any dish into a mouthwatering delicacy. Aside from cheddar, mozzarella is the most recognizable type of cheese. While it is not essential to know the story of the food items you choose to indulge on, it is interesting to know how the food items you love came to be.
Mozzarella comes from the Neapolitan dialect that is spoken in the Campania region of Italy. Mozzare means “to cut off” The first documented mention of mozzarella cheese was in a 1570 cookbook that was written by Bartolomeo Scappi. One recipe in the book calls for, “milk cream, fresh butter, ricotta cheese, fresh mozzarella and milk.” There have been other mentions earlier in history (12th century) but they reference “mozza,” which was exclusively used as locations but the context eludes to a topping on bread (most likely cheese). These earlier references were found to be associated with the Benedictine monks of San Lorenzo in Capua, which may very well be the true origin of the famous cheese. The monks’ preparation of mozzarella was made from cow’s milk.
The 13th century was an important turning point in the history of mozzarella due to the introduction of water buffalo, especially in the Campania region. The practice of producing mozzarella with buffalo milk developed and peaked in the 17th century. Today, mozzarella made from water buffalo milk is the true form of the cheese and is highly regarded for its flavor and texture.
Since the 17th century, not much has changed in the production of mozzarella and no one seems to question it all. It wasn’t until 1998 when the European Union granted mozzarella a Traditional Specialties Guaranteed certification, which requires that mozzarella sold in the EU is produced using the traditional recipe. This products consumers from being scammed by fraud cheese producers trying to pass off non-traditional products. While the type of milk used in production is not specified, there is a significant difference between cow’s milk and Italian water buffalo’s milk. Not only is the flavor of the Italian water buffalo mozzarella much richer but the price of the milk for production is about 3x higher. Mozzarella di Bufala Campana is protected under the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin scheme and can only be produced in select locations in the Italian regions of Campania, Lazio, Apulia and Molise.
Types of Mozzarella
Aside from the type of milk used in production, there are several types of mozzarella cheese. While typically mozzarella will be white in color, it can vary slightly depending on the seasonality of the animal’s diet.
The main types of mozzarella cheese are:
Fior di latte– mozzarella made from fresh pasteurized or unpasteurized cow’s milk
Mozzarella affumicata– smoked mozzarella
Ovolini– egg-sized balls of mozzarella
Low-moisture– this type is often best used for pizzas because it contains less water and has a low to moderate browning effect.
Skim– low-fat cheese and some do not require aging or the use of a starter in the production process.
Stuffed– a new trend since 2006, some are sold stuffed with olives, ham or small tomatoes.
Due to the high moisture content, mozzarella is best served the day it is made. However, many Italian restaurants in the Miami are not fortunate enough to be able to purchase same-day mozzarella, other packaging methods had to be developed such as vacuum sealing. Low-moisture can even be kept in a refrigerator for up to a month.
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