Buffalo Mozzarella: Pizza Perfect

Tuesday, 9 October 2012 | Tags: , ,

For an all-pizza Anna & Kristina's Grocery Bag episode, we wanted to find the best ingredients possible for our toppings. Pizza experts say mozzarella made from water buffalo milk is superior to cow's milk mozzarella for its creaminess and flavour. We got the scoop from master Cheese maker Paul Sutter.

The Basics

  • The term “mozzarella” is used to describe several kinds of Italian cheese made using spinning and cutting techniques.

  • True mozzarella is made from water buffalo milk, ‘mozzarella di bufala’. It’s richer and higher in butterfat than cow’s milk, with a creamier texture and a mild, sweet flavour.

  • Mozzarella made from cow’s milk is typically labeled ‘mozzarella fior di latte. Similarly, low-moisture mozzarella is made from whole or partly skimmed cow’s milk, and is widely used in the North American food service industry.

  • Types of mozzarella include:

    • Burrata – a ball with a soft centre of cream and stracciatelle – little rags of mozzarella left over from the making process.
    • Burricotti – ricotta-filled mozzarella
    • mozzarella affumicata – smoked
    • ovalini – 3.5 ounce balls
    • bocconcini – mini 1.5 ounce balls
  • Mozzarella is different from other cheese in that it is not aged. In fact, it’s best when eaten within hours of making it.

  • Mozzarella is made by heating milk curds in water or whey until they form strings and become elastic. The curds are then stretched, kneaded until smooth, and formed into round balls to make fresh mozzarella cheese.

  • Fresh buffalo mozzarella is packaged in whey or water. It has a spongy texture and easily absorbs odours, so be careful how you store it. Keep it in the liquid until you use it. Use it quickly, within a week.

    • Because buffalo mozzarella has such a short shelf life, it is usually not widely available in areas without local water buffalo farms.

    • If you are going to splurge on mozzarella di bufala, choose to do so as the summer tomato season begins as some stores only bring it in then.

    • If the mozzarella is not clearly labeled as water buffalo (di bufala) milk, then it is likely made from cow’s milk.
  • Low-moisture mozzarella (cow milk) is soured and carefully dried in a controlled environment. Without the moisture, it can last for weeks, but its fresh, milky taste begins to fade within the first 2-4 weeks.

    • Some low-moisture mozzarella is actually made with condensed milk or milk powder instead of fresh milk. Fresh milk is preferred.
  • Pre-shredded mozzarella (cow milk) comes coated with a desiccating powder (cellulose, potato starch, or corn starch) to prevent clumping.

Field Trip!

We visited Fairburn Farm on Vancouver Island for a tour and lesson on their water buffalo, which are the first Canadian herd and BC’s only water buffalo farm.

  • Water buffalo thrive on grass, clover, and haylage. They don’t need high levels of concentrated feed. Fairburn Farm never gives their herd GMO feed. 

  • Buffalo milk is high in milk solids, which makes it ideal for cheese production, as well as for other diary products.

Natural Pastures Head Cheese Maker Paul Sutter had this to say about mozzarella:

  • Fresh mozzarella should be eaten right away, but to keep it fresh-tasting as long as possible store it in its brine in the coldest part of the fridge.

  • Fresh mozzarella is best uncooked in dishes like caprese salad, or lightly melted on a pizza. Its delicate flavors and texture isn’t really suited for longer cooking times.

  • The mozzarella you see sold in bricks in the grocery store is low-moisture mozzarella, it’s been dried and aged for a longer shelf life and more concentrated flavor and is great in baked dishes like lasagna.

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