Mozzarella is a traditional Italian cheese. It is a mild, smooth-textured fresh cheese and was was first made in Southern Italy near Naples. Originally, mozzarella was only made with buffalo milk. Legend has it that mozzarella was first made when cheese curds accidentally fell into a pail of hot water in a cheese factory near Naples … and soon thereafter the first pizza was made! Mozzarella is the most popular cheese in the world and is generally considered to be most flavorful when served at room temperature, so unwrap the cheese and leave it out of the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.
The word “mozzarella”, derived from the Neapolitan dialect spoken in Campania, 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”. In the middle of the 20th century, mozzarella triumphantly advanced throughout all of Europe. Mozzarella received a Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TEG) certification from the European Union in 1998.
Mozzarella is a stretched-curd cheese – the curd is mixed with heated whey and stretched and kneaded until it attains a smooth, pliable consistency. It is then molded into spheres or ovals and stored in water to keep it moist. Delicate and perishable, it typically lasts only a few days – some versions, however, undergo an aging process that strengthens their flavour, toward that of provolone, and prolongs their storage life. In Italy, the cheese is produced nationwide using Italian buffalo’s milk because Italian buffalo is in all Italian regions. Fior di latte is made from fresh cow’s milk and not water buffalo milk, which greatly lowers its cost. Lightly smoked mozzarella is known as Scamorze. Mozzarella made from cow’s milk is milder in taste than mozzarella made from buffalo’s milk.
Fresh mozzarella balls are sold in a brine, whey or water solution to help them retain their moisture and shape. Mozzarella is used as a topping on pizza in several pasta dishes, antipasto dishes, sandwiches, salads and various side dishes. It is considered the best cheese for pizza for a few reasons: its delicate, milky flavor, its smooth, elastic texture, and its fabulous meltability. Caprese salad is a simple Italian salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and sweet basil, seasoned with salt and olive oil, occasionally paired with arugula.