As regular readers will know, we’re huge fans of sharing fantastic cheese recipes with you.
If you’re needing some fresh to pep up your January, there’s nothing better than our homemade mozzarella. It’s ready in just 30 minutes and you can make it at home. Even better, once you’ve made some delicious mozzarella, you get to eat it!
Mozzarella is a semi-soft cheese. 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 in the fridge.
Derived from the Neapolitan dialect spoken in Campania, mozzarella is the diminutive form of mozza (“cut”) or mozzare (“to cut off”) derived from the method of working. The term is first mentioned in 1570, cited in a cookbook by Bartolomeo Scappi, reading “milk cream, fresh butter, ricotta cheese, fresh Mozzarella, and milk”.
You probably already have some favorite mozzarella recipes, but we hope our ideas will inspire you to make some cheese today.
1. On a pizza
We know this isn’t a new idea, but if you’ve never made pizza at home then now is definitely the time to give it a go. Pizza dough is really easy to make and if you get yourself a pizza stone you will be able to enjoy the crispy base you love without even leaving the house.
You only need a little mozzarella, to stop the dough from becoming soggy, and then you add your favorite toppings. You could even put some mozzarella on the edges of the pizza and roll over the dough to make your own stuffed crust. Invite your friends over for a pizza party and they’re sure to marvel at your homemade cheese.
2. In a fruity salad
Whilst you might always think of having mozzarella in a Caprese salad with tomatoes, its creaminess is the perfect accompaniment to a salad with fruits.
Combine mozzarella with figs and green beans, oranges and arugula, or peaches and basil for a great pick-me-up salad. All of these will go perfectly with ham or bacon. Get creative and try your own combinations, too.
3. In a burger
No, we don’t mean in a bun with your burger, we actually mean in a burger. This is another recipe to try at home if you’ve never had a go before. Patties can be made simply out of ground beef, bread crumbs, an egg and salt and pepper. But next time you make them, roll a small piece of mozzarella into the middle. When they cook, the cheese will melt inside and will ooze deliciousness with every bite.
Make sure to fill your bun with your favorite salad and relishes for real perfection.
If you’re looking for a wine pairing for mozzarella, a fruity Sauvignon Blanc will work perfectly with the mild freshness of the cheese. If you prefer red wine, the cherry flavors of Sangiovese or Chianti would work well.
Let us know what you make in the comments! We’d love to hear your ideas for using mozzarella.
September 5th marked a day of celebration for America, and perhaps, even much of the world… because who doesn’t like pizza and cheese or both? Unknown to many is that September 5th is National Cheese Pizza Day. You know with the birth of smartphones and mobile apps came the phrase “…there’s an app for that”, well in similar light, if you love a food or, in this case, a combination of foods, a new axiom may take shape here, “…there might just be ‘National’ day for that”. A day that puts the focus of pizza and cheese, two delicious foods in and of themselves, but when together, spark a whole new revelation of culinary marvel… who would not love a day just to celebrate such a marvel? The answer should be simple… no one.
There has been an age-old question that continues to make the mind wonder and wander, that is… “Is there a perfect cheese to put on pizza?” Dr. Bryony James, a scientist whose research centers on food microstructure and food material science in New Zealand at the University of Auckland dove right in to find an answer the this question. Dr. James’ team of scientists study the building blocks of food and even experiment with structural composition of various foods that can influence its functionality. Ideally, their line of scientific research would allow them to develop a potential hypothesis for such an experiment. As the team began initial studies of the “best cheese for pizza”, they already knew that, historically, Mozzarella was highly favored and the most commonly used cheese for pizza topping.
Among countless scientific trials and experiments, the team researched cheese based on browning and blistering. These variable were designated as focuses of research as they were found to be the most looked upon features by consumers. Examining the properties, features and characteristics of cheese could potentially lead to further discoveries of the ideal cheese or in some cases, the ideal combination of cheeses to use on pizza. Other cheeses the group extended their research to was Cheddar, Colby, Emmental, Gruyere and Provolone. The actual experimentation itself was conducted by state-of-the-art technology, as opposed to human hands. As human judgment would have been idea over the work of a machine, it would have been far more time-consuming and brought the idea of a “bias” trial or opinions when bringing human emotion and interaction into the picture.
Of the properties of cheese that were measured for this experiment, smell, texture, melting properties and color were at the forefront. Researched revealed that some cheeses like Cheddar did not produce a favorable level of blistering while the likes of Gruyere did not properly brown after melting, which can be attributed to the oil content within the cheese. The results clearly indicated that although Mozzarella might be the traditional favorite cheese topper for pizzas, there might not be that “perfect” cheese or combination of cheeses, as each cheese’s characteristics and properties, when undergoing melting, might be desirable for one consumer, but desirable for another.
Mozzarella is a very famous fresh cheese, made from goat’s milk, cow’s milk or in some cases, buffalo’s milk by means of an intricate and complex process by the name of “pasta filata method”. Originally from southern Italy, its name is quiet common for many different types of Italian cheeses made using “spinning” and then “cutting” this original pasta coming from milk : The Italian verb “mozzare” means exactly “to cut”.
Some common and famous types are:
- Buffalo mozzarella made from domesticated buffalo milk;
- Mozzarella fior di latte (or simply Fiordilatte) is made from fresh pasteurized, or also unpasteurized, cow’s milk:
- Low-moisture mozzarella, which is made from whole or part skimmed milk, and widely used in the food-service industry;
- Smoked mozzarella (affumicata) called in this way for the treatment that is receives which gives it a very particular and special smell and taste;
Fresh mozzarella is usually white in its common visual expression, but this colour can vary seasonally to a very mild yellow depending on the specific diet with which the animal is fed. It is a semi-soft cheese and traditionally served the day after the production, but can be kept “in brine” for a week or even more if sold in vacuum-sealed packages. Low-moisture mozzarella can also be kept refrigerated for up to a month. It is also used for many types of pizza and many very famous and tasty pasta dishes (Cooking Mozzarella) but it can be also served with slices of tomatoes and basil in the very typical “insalata caprese”.
A bufala is a female water buffalo. Hers is the milk – rare and expensive – from which mozzarella is traditionally made. These days, however, you’re more likely to find a version made from cows’ milk, which is more readily available and much less costly.
The history of mozzarella is closely linked to that of the water buffalo. How and when did the animals arrive in Italy? Some say it was Hannibal, others talk about Arab invasions and still others say that India was the source. What we do know is that they began to be raised in the 12th century, at a time when many peasants, fleeing war and invasions, abandoned their land. That land turned marshy, which is exactly what water buffalo like. Several centuries later, northern Italy became concerned about cleaning up the marshlands, and in 1930, the south began a massive agrarian reform. The herds of water buffalo, the “black mine” that produced “white gold,” dwindled. Cow’s milk began to replace bufala milk in the recipe. Then, in 1940 the Nazis destroyed the remaining herds. After the war, water buffalo imported from India were reintroduced to Italy, but the cheese introduced to North America by Italian immigrants in New York at the turn of the 20th century and in Canada around 1949 was made with cow’s milk.
Aside from the milk, mozzarella’s other distinguishing feature is its stringy texture. After the whey is discarded, the curds are “strung” or “spun” to achieve the characteristic pasta filata. The cheese is then cut (in Italian, mozzare means to cut), immersed in water to firm it up, then covered in a light brine, in which it is kept until it is eaten.
Etymology of the name
The name was mentioned in a cookbook witten by Bartolomeo Scappi in the 1570: “milk cream, fresh butter, ricotta cheese, fresh mozzarella and milk” (…).
The name comes from the Neapolitan dialect (from Naples, the capital of Campania) and it is the diminutive of “mozza” which, as we saw, means “cut” or, if you want from the verb “mozzare” (to cut) and it rappresents the technique of working the pasta coming from milk.
A very similar cheese is “Scamorza” which probably derives from scamozzata which leterally means “without a shirt”, reffered to the appearance of these cheeses “without” hard surface covering typical of many other dry cheeses.
“Mozzarella di bufala campana” as mentioned before is a specific quality made from the buffalo’s milk: these are raised in specific areas of the territory of the regions of Lazio and Campania (Italy).
Unlike other types, that can derive from non-Italian milk and often semi-coagulated milk, the buffalo mozzarella holds the status of “Denominazione di Origine Protetta” (protected designation of origin – PDO 1996) under the European Union, While in 1996 mozzarella was recognized as a Specialità Tradizionale Garantita (STG) which translated means “Traditional Speciality Guaranteed”.
Fior di latte or simply Fiordilatte is a mozzarella made only from cow’s milk (not from buffalo). The quality of this product is inferior compared to the one from buffalo and as consequence also the price of this type of mozzarella is lower. It is for this reason that is always important the certification of the label because, especially abroad it is not unusual to find “mozzarella” not clearly labeled as deriving from buffalo made instead from cow’s milk.
You can find two type of Mozzarella: fresh or partly dried.
- The fresh one is usually shaped into balls that weigh 80-100 grams, for a diameter that usually is not more than 5- 6 centimetres. Specific brands can nevertheless make balls that can reach 1 kilogram for or about 10-12 centimetres in diameter. This fresh version is usually soaked in salt water (brine) or whey, rarely with the addition of citric acid;
- The partly dried mozzarella is more compact and dense, usually used to prepare dishes cooked in the oven, such as “pasta al forno”, pizza, etc.
It is possible to twist the “pasta filante” with the result that the final shape is a plait: this type of mozzarella is called “Treccia”. and it can have many length according to the final destination: Sunday 13 of June 2006 after 6 hours of work, Avellino won the Guinness World Record with the longest Mozzarella Treccia in the world – 106,16 meters. But usually the dimension is from few centimeters to few decimeters.
An other interesting and very typical type is the so called “Mozzarella affumicata” which is a is smoked varietes, very tasty and with a light brown collor due to the smoke that is on the surfice of the cheese.
“Nodini” is an other type of mozzarella: the term means little knots and in fact he shapes is made by weaving once the “pasta filante” and the dimension is typically around 3-4 cm. Similar to bocconcini, but a unique knot shape, this cheese gives a nicer texture and ability to expose more surface with about the same volume.
“Mozzarella Sfoglia” , literally “mozzarella sheet” is a cheese inspired by traditional puff pastry; especially in Puglia, it is the traditional base for the preparation of sweet and savoury recipes, stuffed to create original hot and cold dishes.
Several variants of mozzarella are specifically formulated for pizza: “Cooking Mozzarella” is a low-moisture Mozzarella cheese: as you can understand it contains less water than real one”.
Mozzarella can be shaped in very particular ways and artistic shapes such as elephant, pig, dummy, which are widely produced in Southern Italy: the aim of this idea is to distract where possible kids from eating junk food/candies and so for snacks and focusing on high calcium and healthy cheese instead but keeping the fun and interest high.
“Burrata” meaning “buttered”: it is a dreamy fresh cheese that consists of a Mozzarella pouch, rather than a ball, filled with a delicate milky-mousse. When you bite into it, the fillinggently oozes out. Delicious!