Admit it, mozzarella is one of those things about Italy you just can’t resist 🙂 Now I have collected everything I know or could find about this cheese.
Mozzarella is a traditionally southern Italian dairy product made from Italian buffalo’s milk by the pasta filata method. Mozzarella received a Traditional Specialities Guaranteed certification from the European Union in 1998. This protection scheme requires that mozzarella sold in the European Union is produced according to a traditional recipe. The TSG certification does not specify the source of the milk, so any type of milk can be used. In Italy, mozzarella made with the milk of the Italian water buffalo is an important variety. The Italian buffalo mozzarella sold as Mozzarella di Bufala Campana is protected under the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin scheme and may only be produced in select locations in the regions of Campania, Lazio, Apulia and Molise. Fresh mozzarella is generally white, but may vary seasonally to slightly yellow depending on the animal’s diet. Due to its high moisture content, it is traditionally served the day after it is made, but can be kept in brine for up to a week or longer when sold in vacuum-sealed packages. Low-moisture mozzarella can be kept refrigerated for up to a month, though some shredded low-moisture mozzarella is sold with a shelf life of up to six months. Mozzarella of several kinds is also used for most types of pizza and several pasta dishes, or served with sliced tomatoes and basil in Caprese salad.
In Italy, the cheese is produced nationwide using Italian buffalo’s milk under the government’s official name Mozzarella di latte di bufala because Italian buffalo is in all Italian regions.
Fior di latte (written also as one word), is made from fresh pasteurized or unpasteurized cow’s milk and not water buffalo milk, which greatly lowers its cost. Perfect for fillings and frying. Outside Italy “mozzarella” not clearly labeled as deriving from water buffalo can be presumed to derive from cow milk. Mozzarella affumicata means smoked mozzarella.
To produce 1 kg (2.2 lb) of cheese, a cheese maker requires 8 kg (18 lb) of cow milk but only 5 kg (11 lb) of buffalo milk. Producing 1 kg of butter requires 14 kg (31 lb) of cow milk but only 10 kg (22 lb) of buffalo milk.
Mozzarella of sheep milk, sometimes called “mozzarellapecorella”, is typical of Sardinia, Abruzzo and Lazio, where it is also called ‘mozzapecora’. In Sardinia, it’s really common to find mozzarella made from sheep’s milk.
Mozzarella of goat’s milk is of recent origin and the producers are still few; among the reasons for this new production is the need to offer a kind of mozzarella to those who do not digest cow’s milk, because goat’s milk is more digestible. Goat’s milk mozzarella is made in very few dairies. As goat’s milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk, many producers have begun increasing quantities. Called “caprotella” (capra the Italian word for goat), it’s light but also very flavorful.
Mozzarella is rather high in calories. One hundred grams contains about 288 calories (for buffalo mozzarella), or 260 for the fiordilatte variant. Many producers make a “light” version weighing in at 170 calories per 100 grams.
Many restaurants use a mozzarella variant that contains less fat and water than traditional mozzarella, as it ensures easier cooking and a less soggy crust.
In 2011, the famous Serbian director Emir Kusturica produced the film Mozzarella Stories directed by the young Italian director, Edoardo De Angelis.