My love for cheese goes beyond what words can describe. Last summer, J. and I went to Italy and that is where my love of Mozzarella cheese truly blossomed. A classic Italian cheese, it was at every restaurant we went to. In Florence, there was even an entire restaurant – Obica – dedicated to showcasing all of these different types of this beautiful cheese.
Enjoy mozzarella anytime, anywhere, by knowing the difference between some of its main forms:
This is the kind we find in big blocks, string cheese, or pre-shredded at the grocery store. While it curbs the craving for the mozzarella taste, it of course, is processed cheese. However, it is more firm so is good for shredding and topping things like pizza or melting into a sauce. It can however be a little more waxy tasting than the fresh version.
Usually made from whole milk, the mozzarella curd is heated, stretched, folded, and formed into balls for this fresh version. It is very high in moisture. Fresh mozzarella is great sliced to eat as is or in salads. You can also add onto pizza, although it can become somewhat rubbery after it cools down too much.
Bocconcini (and Ovolini and Perline)
These are all versions of fresh mozzarella but are torn and formed into smaller sized balls. Pieces of the fresh mozzarella can be formed into egg sized pieces (known as ovolini), 1 inch pieces (bocconcini), and grape sized pieces (perline). All these smaller sized balls are great for soups, salads, skewers, or marinating in oil.
Mozzarella di bufala
Just like fresh mozzarella, but made from buffalo milk instead of cow’s milk. It contains more fat and more flavor. The only downside is that is more difficult to find and does not last as long.
Burrata may look like normal fresh mozzarella on the outside, but once you cut into it, the center is filled with a creamier version of the mozzarella that was leftover during the heating/stretching/folding process (almost like a riccotta type creaminess). This cheese is great for dipping with bread.
The name for the ooey goey cheese you’ll find inside the burrata. This can also be purchased on its own but has a very short shelf life.
Any type of mozzarella can be smoked to form this delicious cheese. This is usually smoked in Hickory or Cherrywood until the outside of the mozzarella becomes a golden brown color. Smoked mozzarella pairs nicely in classic Italian dishes like lasagna.
My favorite recipe with fresh mozzarella is very simple but ultra delicious – the caprese salad. I serve mine with sliced tomato, topped with a basil leaf, a slice of fresh mozzarella, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Creamy and salty from the cheese, acidic from the tomato, and a hint of sweet from the basil and balsamic come together in perfect harmony in what is one of my favorite foods of all time.
Until next time!