Mozzarella di Bufala – the Best Cheese in the World

Mozzarella di Bufala is one of the most famous and widespread Italian cheeses. Mozzarella is a soft, young cheese best enjoyed fresh from production.

Nothing compares to fresh mozzarella with buffalo milk’s pleasant, delicate flavor. Once you’ve tasted authentic mozzarella, you’ll never want to return.

The Origin Story

It’s still unknown who brought buffaloes to Italy. Some say Hannibal, others claim the Arabs, and some believe the Indians. This cheese is also believed to have appeared in the 12th century and was invented entirely by accident.

At that time, as we know, there were no refrigerators, and the local residents of a small town in the Campania region stored milk in a buffalo’s stomach in the cellar. One day, they completely forgot about the milk, and when they remembered, they found cheese formed into a ball with a soft curd inside.

Over time, the cheese spread to other regions of Italy. Today, the best mozzarella is produced in Campania, especially from Caserta and Battipaglia, which are highly praised.
In the early 20th century, northern Italy began a reclamation reform of marshy areas, which are ideal environments for buffaloes. This led to a significant reduction in buffalo numbers. Peasants started to produce mozzarella from cow’s milk. Now, you can find both cow’s milk and buffalo milk mozzarella, though mozzarella di bufala is significantly more expensive, so sometimes you have to look harder for it.
Besides milk, another distinctive feature of mozzarella is its stretchy texture. The milk is cooked at a specific temperature, and after the whey begins to separate, the contents are continuously stirred, gradually forming a stretchy mass called pasta filata. Most interestingly, artisans start to shape and cut (mozzare) the cheese, a process called “mozzatura.” Hence the name of the cheese. It’s not easy; cheesemakers gently and lovingly stretch the cheese, forming smooth, even balls. Then, they immerse the mozzarella in brine to preserve its freshness and softness.

Types of Mozzarella

There are 4 types of mozzarella:

  1. fresh (fior di latte from cow’s milk and di bufala from buffalo’s milk);
  2. pressed (mozzarella solido);
  3. stretched (in the form of braids trecce and knots nodini);
  4. smoked (Mozzarella affumicata).

 Making mozzarella

The curd for mozzarella is like a woman’s body, and male cheesemakers carefully mold it into works of art.

These can be large balls — “bocconcini,” slightly smaller balls the size of a large cherry — “ciliegine,” or tiny ones — “perlini.” There’s also mozzarella in the form of braids (trecce) or twisted knots (nodini). Some producers invent their method of twisting mozzarella, their trademark, so to speak. Many homemade mozzarella productions in the Campania region still exist, preparing this delicious cheese for locals from early morning.

Buffalo milk mozzarella from the Campania region carries the Mozzarella di Bufala Campana D.O.P. quality mark. Besides Campania, this cheese is produced in the Lazio and Sicily regions.

If you have the chance to go on a culinary tour, like I once did, and visit a cheese factory at 5 in the morning, definitely take it. The aromas in the air are incredible. And freshly made mozzarella will exceed all your expectations. The taste is slightly bland but delicate, subtle, and milky. Fresh mozzarella has a creamy, soft texture and resembles a sponge. When you cut a ball with a knife, white liquid – the milk – flows out.

Recommended read: How to make mozzarella at home
This cheese is the foundation of the classic Italian Caprese salad. Ripe bright red tomatoes, pearls of snow-white mozzarella, juicy green basil, a bit of oregano, and greenish-gold olive oil create a cheerful mood on the plate – a gastronomic idyll.
Pizza-calzone with mozzarella
There are many ways to enjoy soft mozzarella: antipasti – mozzarella and prosciutto or tuna tartare in a creamy mozzarella sauce; pasta – with tomatoes, black olives, and mozzarella or tortelli with mozzarella, couscous with mozzarella, or rice balls arancini with mozzarella, peas, and pancetta, or in Sicilian closed pizza calzone in a crescent shape. And this list can go on indefinitely, simply because mozzarella is the perfect and best cheese, and my love for it is inexplicable.

Buon appetito!

Guide, traveler, marathon runner, journalist, creator of the site ITALY FOR ME. I conduct author's excursions at dawn so that everyone, like me ten years ago, fell in love with the Eternal City at first sight. I organize tours with wonderful people, and professional guides in Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Verona, Bologna, Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, Turin, and Genoa. On the topic of the article, please ask questions in the comments. I try to reply to everyone at least once a day.

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