Analysis. The daily analysis of milk samples and a tight control over all production phases: each year DOP buffalo mozzarella from the region of Campania undergoes around 10,000 tests, which make it one of the most highly controlled cheeses in Europe.
Buffalo. Female buffaloes are the “mothers” of the most prized mozzarella. These animals need to live in a warm humid environment. The milk used in mozzarella production has to be full fat and absolutely fresh; it is heated to a temperature of 33-39°C.
Consortium. The Consortium of DOP buffalo mozzarella makers in Campania is the only organization officially endorsed by European authorities for the monitoring, safeguarding and valorising of Italian DOP mozzarella cheese. Its associates are bound to comply with production regulations and strict quality controls. It is the most important PDO trademark in central and southern Italy.
DOP (PDO). The protected area of production lies mainly in the region of Campania: the provinces of Caserta and Salerno account for around 90% of certified production in the entire PDO area. Remaining areas include some Communes int the provinces of Naples and Benevento, as well as some other areas in other Italian regions (particularly Latium, Apulia and Molise).
Etymology. Mozzarella is a word deriving from the Italian verb “mozzare”, meaning to lop off, which describes the manual operation of cutting the stretched curd between the index finger and thumb.
Firmness. It literally oozes fresh milk. Yet, at the same time, DOP buffalo mozzarella from Campania is surprisingly chewy. When freshly made, it is elastic and requires quite a bit of chewing; it even makes a noise as you eat it. As the hours pass, it gradually becomes more malleable and even quite soft after prolonged storage in the fridge.
Godoy. The Argentine tango artist, Horacio Godoy, uses buffalo mozzarella to express the male partner’s rapture before his ballerina: I want to eat her like a buffalo mozzarella of Campania!
Hay and corn. Buffaloes need to have a well balanced diet, mainly based on these two kinds of fodder.
Ideal temperature. It has to be stored at temperatures no lower than 10°C , between 10-17°C. It is most important to consume the product at room temperature: for this purpose it may be immersed in a bowl of hot water – protected by its liquid – before serving.
Japan. Together with France, Germany, United States, UK and Switzerland, this country imports DOP buffalo mozzarella. Exports account for 25% of total production.
Kilos. It takes about 4 litres of buffalo milk to make 1 kg of Buffalo Mozzarella of Campania. In 2013, 37,000,000 kilos were produced.
Lasagne. Oven-baked pasta, pizza (here are the secrets for a perfect Neapolitan pizza), fillings and mozzarella in carrozza (golden crusted fried mozzarella): DOP buffalo mozzarella is the key ingredient of many recipes, especially when its structure becomes softer, a few days after its production.
Mozzarella Roads. Le Strade della Mozzarella is an annual gastronomic event, organized in collaboration with the Consortium, which attracts experts and foodies with about 30 cooking shows whose unquestioned protagonist is DOP buffalo mozzarella from Campania. It takes place in Paestum, in Campania, a Unesco World Heritage site.
Natural Parks. The PDO area of buffalo mozzarella from Campania boasts a wealth of sites of remarkable natural and environmental interest: it counts as many as 3 National Parks (Circeo, Cilento - Valle di Diano and Gargano) as well as 10 Regional Parks.
Original. Numerous attempts have been made around the world to produce Campania buffalo mozzarella but the authentic DOP product owes its inimitable flavour to a method of production that is deeply rooted in a time-honoured tradition, as well as a close-knit bond with its land of origin, made up of climate, soil, air and – why not – also sentiment.
Pickle. Freshly produced DOP mozzarella is immediately immersed in a preserving whey brine solution rich in lactic ferments. The quantity of salt used may vary slightly from one producer to another, and from one area of production to another, making the finished product more or less sapid. It is less salty on the Sele plain; more so in the area of Caserta.
Quartz and Porcelain. Buffalo mozzarella from Campania has a colour similar to white porcelain and a smooth shiny skin resembling milky quartz. Its colour differs from that of cow’s milk mozzarella which tends towards straw yellow.
Rennet. Rennet is added to milk that has been slightly acidified by whey, thanks to which it coagulates after about half an hour and becomes a gelatinous mass. The curds firm up in the whey for about three hours (a process known as healing) and are then cut into large pieces to facilitate the draining of the whey, and finally broken up into a myriad of small pieces.
Stretching. The stage following the one described above is called “filatura” in Italian and is the most fascinating aspect of the whole process. Hot water at a temperature of 90°C is added to the mass of broken up curds and the cheese-maker rapidly mixes the mass with a special stick-like tool until it starts to stretch. Then the mozzarella is stretched and cut off either manually or mechanically. The so-called pasta filata is then shaped into its required shape.
Treccia. Round and fat: this is the most common shape of the buffalo mozzarella produced in Campania. In actual fact, it comes in many shapes, from tiny 10 g pearls to the typical “braid” (“treccia” in Italian), which is the ideal form for mozzarellas weighing up to 3 kilos, since it enables the salt in the preserving liquid to penetrate the cheese uniformly.
Unsaturated fat. Buffalo mozzarella from Campania is particularly nutritious (288 kcal/100g) since buffalo milk is richer in proteins, fats and mineral salts than cow’s milk. Most of its fat content consists of unsaturated fatty acids with a lower cholesterol content than that of meat or eggs.
Vs Aged or Blue Cheeses. Voluptuous DOP buffalo mozzarella is nonetheless less caloric than other Italian aged cheeses (405 kcal/100 g) or blue cheeses (358 kcal/100 g).
Whey. The whey added to milk in order to produce this cheese is a natural whey starter culture (called 'cizza'): non-industrial live lactic cultures from the previous day’s activity are selected and produced directly by the dairy.
XII Century. The first historical references to mozzarella date back to the XII century. Some documents illustrate how the monks of San Lorenzo in Capua, close to Caserta, used to offer a cheese called “mozza” and a piece of bread to the pilgrims who took part in the annual procession leading to the Convent Church.
Year 2014 Show. Le Strade della Mozzarella will be held this year from 12 to 14 May. Last year’s edition witnessed the triumph of “Nuvola di Mozzarella” by chef Pino Cuttaia (in the picture above). About 50 chefs will be starring in the new live cooking edition to present their creations based on a research into buffalo mozzarella and its different varieties. What will be the most highly acclaimed dish of 2014?
Zest for mozzarella. The aroma of fresh milk, the sweet aromatic taste of buffalo fat, its assertive yet delicate flavour and rich creaminess: if you love buffalo mozzarella from Campania, you have a zest for life!