90% of mozzarella production today is industrial and uses cow milk as its raw material. Mozzarella has become an almost generic name that also includes the authentic buffalo milk mozzarella (mozzarella di Bufala Campana), which is copied in cow milk. The name can lead to confusion and takes advantage of the ambiguity. However, mozzarella is not only an ordinary cheese used on pizzas. If it is a quality product, it has a sweet flavor and creamy texture that can stand on its own.
Mozzarella cheese that comes without a label or particular quality mark is more often an industrially processed product. It is found in supermarkets as balls, but also shredded. These products have little taste. Only a PDO mark (DOP in Italian) is evidence of real Mozzarella di Bufala Campana. Be wary of packaging that states only “Buffalo mozzarella.” It can be found in supermarkets and in reputable Italian grocery stores. Choose a mozzarella cheese with an immaculate white color and a fine, smooth, and shiny film. It should have a creamy texture and a sweet taste. It weighs between 200 and 500 g.
To appreciate mozzarella cheese at its best, take it out of the refrigerator 1 hour before so that it is at room temperature when eaten.
Mozzarella cheese can be eaten raw of cooked, but Mozzarella di Bufala Campana should not be cooked, because this would denature the simplicity and authenticity of its flavor.
For Italians, Mozzarella di Bufala Campana is enough just drizzled with a little olive oil and accompanied with a few basil leaves. It can be shaped into small balls to accompany melon or a pasta salad, and can be cut into slices to make a vegetable millefeuille. Ordinary mozzarella cheese can be used to make hot dishes such as quiches, tarts, and savory cakes. It can also be crumbed to make cromesquis or to gratinate vegetable or chicken dishes.
Once its packaging is open, mozzarella cheese can be stored for only two days in the refrigerator. Be sure to keep it in its liquid so that it does not dry out. It can also be kept in water.
Mozzarella cheese has few calories and little salt, and is a very good source of protein and calcium.
Mozzarella di Bufala Campana is the highest expression of mozzarella. This pressed, pasta filata cheese is made exclusively from buffalo milk and is a flagship of Italian gastronomy. This fresh artisan cheese from the Campania region of southern Italy has enjoyed PDO status since 1996. This mark allows it to be stand out from the industrial mozzarella cheeses made from cow milk, which are pale copies that cannot equal the sweet and unique flavor of real mozzarella.
Burrata is a fresh and creamy product that has been all the rage for some time. This mozzarella filled with cream is mainly eaten as an appetizer.
There are also other varieties of artisan mozzarella cheese, including bocconcini, hand-shaped 50-g balls of mozzarella made from cow milk; mozzarella affumicata, buffalo mozzarella smoked with straw; and finally treccia, a mozzarella in the form of a braid. Also of interest is Mozzarella Occitane, an artisan mozzarella made from cow milk in the Auvergne region that appeared on the market in France in 2011. It is mainly sold in supermarkets in southwest France.