Mozzarella: The Popular Kid in High School

There is something oddly satisfying and divine about the way a fresh ball of mozzarella cheese looks. The way its smooth and round surface rests in your palms, the bouncing elasticity you feel when you press your finger against it. A white tender pearl of goodness, it is beautiful on the outside and tastes even better on the inside.

Mozzarella cheese is like that one popular kid in high school. It is the high school prom king or queen that everyone admires, the football jock that is ridiculously attractive, the person who gets invited to every party. In the culinary world, mozzarella is a key ingredient that enhances the flavor of endless dishes — from pizzas and pastas to baked goods and salads. You can never go wrong with mozzarella.

If the mention of mozzarella only conjures images pizza in your mind, then you have not fully explored the versatility of this delicious cheese. So, what are you waiting for?

Here’s a primer: Mozzarella comes in several varieties — freshly crafted, mass-produced, mozzarella di bufula (made from buffalo milk), burrata (which has a cheese curd filling), smoked and straciatella (a mix of soft, stringy mozzarella cheese curds and cream).

True cheese lovers will know the difference between the authentic form of mozzarella cheese and the kind most of us consume today. While cow’s milk is used to produce modern-day mozzarella, it was traditionally made with milk from water buffalos, and its creation dates back to the 12th century, with the introduction of water buffalo to the Campania region of Italy. Since it was not made using pasteurized milk, the mozzarella had a very short shelf life and seldom left that southern region. Nowadays, mozzarella is commonly produced with cow’s milk due to the high costs and shipping expenses of buffalo milk.

Mozzarella di bufula is considered the most authentic form and is highly regarded for its flavor and texture. It contains higher concentrations of calcium, protein and iron compared to mozzarella made of cow’s milk, and it’s also lower in cholesterol, providing numerous health benefits. This explains why buffalo’s milk is three times more expensive than cow’s milk and is used to make delicacies that require dairy in the culinary world.

The process of making mozzarella is an intricate art. The critical part of the process is knowing exactly when the cheese matures and is ready to be strung. If left too long, it can become mushy. If strung too early, it can become a tough block of dry cheese. As a mozzarella cheese fanatic, I’ve tried making it myself from home. With patience, practice, and perseverance, it can be successfully mastered in a few weeks!

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