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Italian Cooking Ingredients: Mozzarella Cheese (Ingredienti Italiani)

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Ingredienti Italiani: Mozzarella

Starting this week, for La Piazza’s new “Ingredienti Italiani” series, I’ll be sharing brief notes on favorite Italian recipe ingredients–itemized and brought to you in totally random order. Annotations will duly include bilingual names with phonetics, useful nutrition information, cooking tips, interesting facts of folklore and food history. The entries come laced with anecdotes and gastronomical trivia, and major topics receive extended treatment. The photos constitute food porn, so proceed at your own risk.

Mozzarella {mohtsuhREHLah}

Mozzarella is a generic term for several kinds of fresh milk cheeses that are made by spinning and then cutting the cheese (the Italian verb mozzare means “to sever”). These are:

· Mozzarella di Bufala: made from water buffalo’s milk, which in Europe is sold as Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, a designation of origin status

· Fior di Latte: similar to but more solid and springy than regular mozzarella, fior di latte is made from pasteurized cow’s milk

· Low-moisture mozzarella: made from whole or low-fat milk, and widely used in the foodservice industry

· Smoked mozzarella: commonly known here as Provola Affumicata

Mozzarella fundamentalists insist the cheese must never be refrigerated. The rule is to keep it in a ventilated area of the pantry, shrouded with a gauze cloth and soaked in its whey. During summer I resist for a couple of hours then I shove it in the top part of the fridge where the temperature is milder. Something about leaving fresh dairy out in the Roman summer heat of my otherwise ventilated kitchen freaks me out.

After a couple of days from making, the mozzarella’s structure starts to lose its original firmness. Then it is better employed in dishes cooked in the oven, like for example lasagna or added diced to wonderful pasta or soups.

When braided to form a plait, mozzarella is called treccia. There are recently also offered a number of variations, such as “stuffed mozzarella”, filled with olives, arugula or prosciutto, as well as cherry tomatoes. The most amazing stuffed mozzarella type is, however, the scrumptious Burrata from the Magna Graecian region of Puglia. But that’s another story…

Photos via flickr: Kjunstorm, nebulux76

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About the author

American-born and Roman-bred Eleonora Baldwin is an active writer, blogger, journalist, gourmet vacation entrepreneur and photographer living in the Eternal City. Her writing appears regularly in several online food and travel columns that focus on Italian lifestyle, culinary customs and recipes, as well as her soon-to-be released cookbook-memoir, due for publication in 2016. Her blogs illustrate dishes, restaurant reviews, and useful tools for parents travelling with kids in Rome. On Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino, her most popular blog, Eleonora shared her insider knowledge about the depth of Italian cuisine. She can be spotted in and around the Eternal City guiding epicure travelers to secret food and wine locations, interviewing celebrity chefs, and capturing with her camera the essence, beauty and life that surrounds her.

7 thoughts on “Italian Cooking Ingredients: Mozzarella Cheese (Ingredienti Italiani)”

  1. Wow, now that is interesting. I would have thought you would get sick if it weren’t refigerated. How long is it good for in a pantry though?

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