Cheese is what makes a pizza delicious and is one of the ingredients that complete your whole pizza eating experience. And one of the most famous cheeses to have ever been spread out on top of a pizza is mozzarella. That delicious gooey, stretchy, tangy, and chewy cheese that leaves a tantalizing feeling in your mouth. And let’s admit it, it’s probably one of the best cheeses in the world.
Legend tells us that mozzarella was first made when cheese curds accidentally fell into a pail of hot water in a cheese factory and sometime shortly after that, the first ever pizza was invented. So whats the true story?
Mozzarella was first made in Southern Italy near Naples. Records show that the Romans were already making a similar kind of cheese from sheep’s milk during the middle of the first century A.D. And the cheese got its name because of the tradition during the third century in which the monks from San Lorenzo di Capua would give out bread and self-made cheese which they called “mozza” to the people in need. And the name mozzarella was developed from the mozza which came from the Italian word “mozzare” which means to separate or to cut off. But when water buffalo farming emerged during the 16th century, they quickly switch from making the cheese with sheep’s milk to buffalo milk.
Because mozzarella was not made from pasteurized milk and there was no refrigeration that was available during that time, the cheese had a very short shelf-life and it somehow never left the southern region of Italy where it was made. But as technology, transportation systems, and refrigeration improved the cheeses were able to reach other regions of Italy. And in the middle of 20th century, mozzarella was able to be transported all throughout Europe.
How it’s Made
Raw milk is pasteurized and coagulated to form curds and once the curds have a P.H of 5.2, which is the right point in where the cheese can be kneaded. After that, the cheesemakers cut it into small pieces and mix them with hot water. After that, they stretch and kneed the cheese until long ropes of cheese formand this process known as the pasta filata.
There are two types of mozzarella that are available in the United States, low moisture mozzarella which contains roughly less than 50 percent of moisture and of course high moisture mozzarella that contains roughly 50 percent more moisture. The low moisture mozzarella was developed in the United States to be able to fit the distribution and transportation system. The low moisture mozzarella is the cheese that big factories produce to the pizza industry.
On the other hand, high moisture mozzarella is also readily available in the U.S and you can usually spot them in many specialty stores. However, it is often made from cow’s milk or a combination of goat’s and cow’s milk. Most buffalo milk mozzarella that is sold in the U.S came is imported from Italy and South America.
Mozzarella cheese should taste fresh and milky. Some might say that it has a bland flavor but there should be a hint of sourness with a mild and delicate flavor. Experts say that if the mozzarella cheese tastes too sour, then it is past its prime. The cheese is generally white but it can be slightly yellow depending on the animal’s diet. You could distinguish the cheese’s freshness based on the elasticity of the curd.
Why Mozarella and Pizza?
There is no doubt that the connection of Mozzarella cheese and our modern pizza is strongly related to the fact that they both have origins in Italy. Mozzarella is the perfect pizza cheese and science has an explanation for it. When scientists experimented with different types of cheese such as edam, cheddar, mozzarella, and provolone they found out that mozzarella’s unique elasticity and its water and oil content produces the perfect consistency that everyone looks for in pizza. It also cooks nicely and gives the pizza a mottled and tasty top. Mozzarella does not also collect pools of grease on top of your pizza.
Mozzarella is definitely one of the most popular types of cheese and a slice of pizza can never be complete without it.