mozzarella

Pronunciation: [maht-suh-REHL-lah; moht-suh-REHL-lah]

Hailing from southern Italy, mozzarella is a mild, white fresh cheese that's made by the special pasta filata process, whereby the curd is dipped into hot whey, then stretched and kneaded to the desired consistency. At one time, mozzarella was made only from the milk of water buffaloes. Today, however, it's typically made with cow's milk. Mozzarella comes in two basic styles. Most regular mozzarella, which can be found in lowfat and nonfat forms in supermarkets, is factory produced. It has a semisoft, elastic texture and is drier and not as delicately flavored as its fresher counterpart. This style of mozzarella is best used for cooking and is popular for pizza because of its excellent melting qualities. Fresh mozzarella, which is usually packaged in whey or water, is often labeled "Italian style." It's generally made from whole milk and has a much softer texture and a sweet, delicate flavor. Mozzarella di bufala (also called buffalo mozzarella) is the most prized of the fresh mozzarellas. Most buffalo mozzarella available in the United States is made from a combination of water buffalo milk and cow's milk. Two popular forms of mozzarella are boconccini, which are little (about 1 inch in diameter) balls that are commonly marinated in olive oil and sometimes herbs, and the even smaller cherry-sized ciliegini. There's also a smoked version called mozzarella affumicata and the unique manteca, in which the mozzarella is molded around a lump of butter. Fresh mozzarella can be found in Italian markets, cheese shops and some supermarkets. It's excellent simply spread on bread with salt, pepper and a little olive oil.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Forget the fryer, mozzarella sticks have a healthier side that's still crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside.

Crisp Mozzarella Sticks — Meatless Monday

Try Food Network Kitchens' lightened up Crisp Mozzarella Sticks for a better-for-you Meatless Monday snack that kids and adults alike will enjoy.

Better Together: Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Check out Food Network best five caprese salad-inspired recipes, each a unique twist on the classic Italian dish.

Fresh Mozzarella: The Good Stuff

Is fresh mozzarella worth the splurge? Consider that it's nutritionally comparable to low-fat mozzarella, but has a much better flavor. Try it in Robin Miller's grilled fruit salad.

Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Salad — Recipe of the Day

Ina takes a classic salad and seasons it perfectly with good olive oil, salt and pepper.

Giada's Top-Rated Mozzarella Sticks — Most Popular Pin of the Week

Enjoy your favorite cheesy bar snack right at home.

Gooey, Surprisingly Healthy Mozzarella Sticks — Most Popular Pin of the Week

The Food Network Kitchen chefs give mozzarella sticks a healthy twist by using part-skim cheese and baking instead of frying the sticks.