Symbol of Italy in the world, the stronghold of history and freshness, an unmatched and unique local product, as humble as it is tasty: let’s learn to appreciate the mozzarella even more through these interesting facts.
The name comes from the fact that the spun paste obtained from the curd is "cut off," that is, cut by the dairy farmers to be modeled in its characteristic forms, whether it is rounded, braided or the bite-sized “bocconcini”. In Campania it has been like that for at least 500 years: "The water buffalo milk, which is used for making the ball tied with reeds, are called mozze (cut-offs)," writes Pietro Andrea Mattioli in 1563, and Scappi in 1570: "Top milk, fresh butter, ricotta flowers, fresh mozzarella, and ice cream."
The mozzarella was once made only with water buffalo milk, obtained from ruminating mammals who were raised and herded in certain provinces of southern Italy (Naples, Caserta, Salerno, Benevento, Latina, Manfredonia, Gioia del Colle). Fortunately for the animals, intensive farming was not possible, and this guaranteed them minimum welfare. Their milk has almost double the solid content of cow’s milk and has a higher percentage of protein and fat, including the "good" unsaturated fats such as oleic acid. Today mozzarella can also be obtained with cow's milk or a mixture of both.
The processing of a ton of water buffalo milk produces over 24 kg of mozzarella, versus the 13 kg obtained from a ton of cow's milk.
The mozzarella is a guaranteed traditional, geographical specialty and proudly bears the STG emblem if produced in full compliance with local rules. Bufala Campana is even DOP, that is, it cannot be produced elsewhere with ingredients that are not from the place or with different methods. So much so that various dairy products used for pizza, sometimes made with milk proteins, or treated and bleached frozen curds from abroad, which cannot be called "mozzarella" use creative names with letters that mimic it: like pizzarella, or mozzabella and so on. But it is not mozzarella.
Mozzarella obtained with cow's milk only are called "fior di latte"; dairies, milk consortia and the most talented pizza makers still use this old-fashioned term.
It is wrong to consider mozzarella a low-fat cheese because it really should be produced with whole milk. It is unnatural, impossible and forbidden to produce fat-free cheese. But it is equally true that fresh cheeses, that mature rapidly, are more watery and, consequently, produce fewer calories than a denser cheese of equal weight.
The mozzarella should be stored in a small amount of salted whey and sealed in the upper part of the refrigerator. If it is left immersed in milk, it loses most of its flavor. Pizza makers may drain it leaving it for some time in the fridge, prior to use in pizza, to prevent the dough base from getting soggy during baking.
The mozzarella should not be put in the freezer compartment because the transition from 18°C below zero to room temperature has a negative effect on its characteristic flavor with the risk of a rather powdery texture.
Stracciatella from Puglia is a delicacy made with strips of mozzarella chopped by hand and mixed with whey cream or whipped cream. Burrata is the bag of spun curd blown up like a balloon that is filled with Stracciatella. The preparation was invented in a dairy in Andria at the beginning of the last century so as not to throw away residues from the processing of mozzarella and capturing the every last shred of mozzarella from the water used for creating the threads of curd and recovering the fatty part of the whey. Large and extremely fragrant asphodel leaves were wrapped around this fresh bundle of goodness until the European Community rules prohibited the use.