10 Fun Mozzarella Cheese Facts
Cheese can come in a dizzying assortment of textures, flavors, and styles. Almost every other country around the world has its own cheesy version that it can be proud of. However, very few can ever match the mild, supple, and refreshing flavors of mozzarella cheese. It is both dense and springy, providing folks with very delicate palates an experience that is out of this world. The light aroma tingles the senses, sending pleasure waves to the brain. When fresh, mozzarella has a certain softness that borders on delicate. But once melted, it transforms into a stringy cheese with a mellow flavor. These are some of the many interesting facts about America’s bestselling cheese. However, there are 10 more fun facts about mozzarella cheese:
Buffalo Milk is the Best
The inexpensive mozzarella cheese you buy from your grocery store may be made of cow’s milk. But in the mozzarella-making regions of Italy, there’s only one mammal that can produce the kind of milk that master cheese-makers can turn into Italy’s white gold – the Italian buffalo. This is especially true for the buffaloes that come from the regions of Campania, Molise, Apulia, and Lazio.
There’s one good reason why buffalo milk is best. It contains 10 to 11 percent more protein than cow’s milk. Buffalo milk may have a higher fat content but its cholesterol level is lower than that of cow’s milk.
The flavor profile of buffalo milk is also quite different to that of cow’s milk. It lends the “mozzarella di latte di bufala” a very unique, silky smoothness. It also has a thicker consistency, making it a lot easier to form into mozzarella balls.
On the production side of things, using buffalo milk is more productive than using cow’s milk. A ton of buffalo milk will yield about 53 pounds of mozzarella cheese. A ton of cow’s milk, on the other hand, will only yield about 28 pounds of mozzarella.
Italy’s White Gold
The name itself is already a dead giveaway, but there are still some people who think mozzarella is an American-made cheese. This is a soft, fresh cheese that has its glorious origins in the region of Campania, Italy. People call it the “white gold” of Italy because of its white color. However, this is not often the case as the cheese can also turn a pale-yellow color. This depends on the diet of the animal that produces the milk used in the making of mozzarella cheese.
From the Word “Mozzare”
Some people think that the word “mozzarella” comes from the town or village where the cheese originated. Mozzarella has its origins from the method of making the cheese. Cheese makers allow the Italian buffalo milk to coagulate. And since the milk has a thick consistency, the process of curdling occurs quite fast. Throughout the entire process, the curd is cut several times and left to “heal”. The process of cutting the curd is known in Neapolitan dialect as “mozzare”. The earliest mention of mozzarella was in 12th century Capua, Campania. Monks at the Monastery of Saint Lorenzo offered pilgrims bread with provatura or mozza.
The EU Protects its Traditional Production
Because of the dedication of mozzarella cheese makers in Italy to never abandon their traditional ways of making this dairy product. As such, the European Union gave due recognition to mozzarella as a Specialita Tradizionale Garantita or Traditional Specialties Guaranteed.
This means that any country within the European Union that wants to produce mozzarella should adhere to the traditional methods of producing the cheese. The product will not get the TSG seal if its manufacturer doesn’t comply with the traditional rules.
Having a TSG seal on a mozzarella product means you are getting an authentic cheese. However, it does not guarantee that the milk used in its production is from Italian buffalo. The only way you can be sure that you have the highly-valued Mozzarella di Bufala Campana is that the packaging has the DOP seal. This stands for Denominazione di Origne Protetta or the Protected Designation of Origin. What this means is that the mozzarella uses only milk from buffaloes raised in the protected regions of Campania, Apulia, Lazio, and Molise.
Low-Calorie Cheese, but Not Low-Fat
If you see a mozza product that’s labeled as fat-free or low-fat, run away. This is a scam. One has to understand that there is only one type of milk that traditional mozzarella producers use: whole milk. This means you get all the proteins, fats, and everything else that are present in milk.
While it is true that mozza contains more fat than cow’s milk, it still has a lower amount of calories compared to other types of cheeses. For example, 100 grams of this cheese will net you around 300 calories. A similar amount of cheddar cheese, on the other hand, can contain 400 calories.
Cheese also contains carbohydrates because of lactose present in milk. The good thing with mozzarella is that a hundred grams of it is only equivalent to 2 grams of carbohydrates. No wonder people use it in their ketogenic diet.
Milk from Cow, Goat, and Sheep Works, Too
The best source of milk for the best mozzarella in the world is Italian buffalo. However, this doesn’t mean that other types of milk can no longer be used in the production of mozza.
Manufacturers that use cow’s milk can produce a type of mozza known as “fior di latte”. If the mozza you are buying doesn’t have the DOP label, then there is a great chance that it’s made of cow’s milk. Producers outside Italy and the EU often use cow’s milk because it is much cheaper than buffalo milk.
If you go to Lazio, Sardinia, and Abruzzo, you may have a different kind of mozzarella. People here use sheep’s milk to make “mozzarella pecorella” or “mozzapecora”. There is a new kind of mozza that’s meant for people who may not be able to digest cow’s milk in an efficient manner. This mozzarella utilizes goat’s milk because it is more digestible than cow’s milk.
Keep Out of the Freezer
Nothing beats the fresh taste of mozzarella. It should always be soft before cooking and stringy afterwards. It should never feel rubbery. Most of all, you should still enjoy the rich creaminess of Italian buffalo milk. As such, you should never put it in the freezer. If you do, you will end up with a powdery and awful-tasting cheese once thawed out. This is never a great way to enjoy pizza or any other dish that calls for the full flavor profile of mozzarella cheese.
Rich in Calcium
Milk and dairy products like cheese are all excellent sources of calcium and other bone health-beneficial minerals. What many do not know is that mozzarella cheese packs more calcium than other cheeses. A hundred grams of mozzarella contains about 51% calcium. Compared to Camembert cheese, it’s only 39 percent. Brie cheese has a much lower percentage of calcium at just 18 percent.
Hence, if you were to consume about an ounce of mozzarella every day, you are already taking in about 14% of your daily calcium needs. Not only are you going to enjoy a sumptuous dish; you are also ensuring stronger bones and teeth as well as healthier muscles.
Rich in Protein
Protein is one of three macronutrients that are very essential to human health. This is a macromolecule that builds, heals, and regenerates the tissues of the body. It makes sure that the immune system has all the soldiers it needs to combat any invader. Hormones and other substances in the body depend on protein for their structure and function.
While the best sources of protein are meats, cheese is not far behind. Now, here’s where it can get interesting. Mozzarella contains more protein than other type of cheese. An ounce of Camembert cheese contains about 5.5 grams of protein while an ounce of American cheese only contains 5 grams of protein. Mozzarella, on the other hand, contains about 6 grams of protein per ounce.
Not Good for Folks with Digestive Issues
Producers of mature cheeses age their products. Aging has the ability to break down the casein present in cheese. Casein breaks down into its components that include amino acids and peptones. These two molecules are a lot easier to digest.
Unfortunately, mozzarella cheesemakers do not age their cheese. As such, the casein is still intact when people consume them. This can lead to stomach upset in individuals who may not be able to digest casein that well. Moreover, the high fat content of mozzarella can affect the way gastric juices are able to break down fat.
We bet you didn’t know most of these interesting facts about your favorite cheese. We are pretty sure there are many more things that we do not know about mozzarella cheese that only the master cheese makers of Italy know by heart. For now, it would suffice to know at least 10 mozzarella facts while enjoying a caprese salad or a slice of pizza napoletana.