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Buffalo mozzarella
Country of originItaly
Source of milkItalian Mediterranean buffalo; cows in all 20 Italian regions; in some areas also sheep and goat
PasteurisedDepends on variety
Fat content22%
CertificationTSG: 1998
Related media on Commons

Mozzarella (English: /ˌmɒtsəˈrɛlə/, Italian: [mottsaˈrɛlla]; Neapolitan: muzzarella, Neapolitan: [muttsaˈrɛllə]) is a semi-soft non-aged cheese prepared by the pasta filata ('stretched-curd') method with origins from southern Italy.

It is prepared with cow's milk or buffalo milk, taking the following names:

  • "Mozzarella fior di latte" or "mozzarella": cow's milk.
  • "Mozzarella di bufala": Italian buffalo's milk.

Fresh mozzarella is white, but the occasional yellow/brown color of mozzarella comes from the enzyme R110.[1] Due to its high moisture content, it is traditionally served the day after it is made[2] but can be kept in brine for up to a week[3] or longer when sold in vacuum-sealed packages. Fresh mozzarella can be heard to make a distinct squeaky sound when it is chewed or rubbed.[4]

Low-moisture mozzarella can be kept refrigerated for up to a month,[5] though some shredded low-moisture mozzarella is sold with a shelf life of up to six months.[6] Mozzarella is used for most types of pizza and several pasta dishes or served with sliced tomatoes and basil in Caprese salad.


Mozzarella, derived from the southern Italian dialects spoken in Apulia, Calabria, Campania, Abruzzo, Molise, Basilicata, Lazio, and Marche, is the diminutive form of mozza ('cut'), or mozzare ('to cut off'), derived from the method of working.[7] The term is first mentioned in 1570, cited in a cookbook by Bartolomeo Scappi, reading "milk cream, fresh butter, ricotta cheese, fresh mozzarella and milk".[8] An earlier reference of Monsignor Alicandri is also often cited as describing mozzarella, which states that in the 12th century the Monastery of Saint Lorenzo, in Capua, Campania, Alicandri offered pilgrims a piece of bread with mozza.[9]


Fresh mozzarella, recognised as a traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG) since 1996 in the European Union,[10] is available usually rolled into a ball of 80 to 100 grams (2.8 to 3.5 oz) or about 6 cm (2.4 in) in diameter, and sometimes up to 1 kg (2.2 lb) or about 12 cm (4.7 in) in diameter. It is soaked in salt water (brine) or whey.

If citric acid is added and it is partly dried (desiccated), its structure becomes more compact. In this last form it is often used to prepare dishes cooked in the oven, such as lasagna and pizza.[11]

Sizes and shapes[edit]

Cherry tomatoes skewered with bocconcini for an appetizer

Fresh mozzarella balls are made in multiple sizes for various uses; often the name refers to the size. Sizes smaller than the typical fist-sized ball include Ovolini, which are about the size of a hen's egg, and may be used whole as part of a composed salad or sliced for topping a small sandwich such as a slider.[12] Bocconcini are approximately bite-sized; a common use is alternating them with cherry tomatoes on a skewer for an appetizer.[12][13] Ciliegine are cherry-sized.[14] Perlene are the smallest commercially produced and are often added to salads or into hot soups or pasta dishes just before serving.[12]

When twisted to form a plait, mozzarella is called "treccia".


Fresh mozzarella on a Neapolitan pizza


Traditionally mozzarella is allowed to dry and harden after it's pulled into shape, while fresh mozzarella is packed in liquid for easy consumption.

Buffalo's milk[edit]

In Italy, the cheese is produced nationwide using Italian buffalo's milk under the government's official name mozzarella di latte di bufala because Italian buffalo are present in all Italian regions. Only selected mozzarella di bufala campana PDO is a type, made from the milk of Italian buffalo raised in designated areas of Campania, Lazio, Apulia, and Molise. Unlike other mozzarellas—50% of whose production derives from non-Italian and often semi-coagulated milk[15]—it holds the status of a protected designation of origin (PDO: 1996) under European Union law[16] and UK law.[17]

Cow's milk[edit]

Fior di latte is made from fresh pasteurized or unpasteurized cow's milk and not water buffalo milk, which greatly lowers its cost. Outside the EU, "mozzarella" not clearly labeled as deriving from water buffalo can be presumed to derive from cow milk.[citation needed]

Sheep's milk[edit]

Mozzarella of sheep milk, sometimes called "mozzarella pecorella", is typical of Sardinia, Abruzzo, and Lazio, where it is also called "mozzapecora". It is worked with the addition of the rennet of lamb.[18][19][20]

Goat's milk[edit]

Mozzarella of goat milk is of recent origin and the producers are still few.[21]


Several variants have been specifically formulated and prepared for use on pizza, such as low-moisture mozzarella cheese.[22][23] The International Dictionary of Food and Cooking defines this cheese as "a soft spun-curd cheese similar to mozzarella made from cow's milk" that is "[u]sed particularly for pizzas and [that] contains somewhat less water than real mozzarella".[24]

Low-moisture part-skim mozzarella, widely used in the food service industry, has a low galactose content, per some consumers' preference for cheese on pizza to have low or moderate browning.[25][nb 1] Some pizza cheeses derived from skim mozzarella variants were designed not to require aging or the use of starter.[26] Others can be made through the direct acidification of milk.[26]


Mozzarella is also available in smoked (affumicata).[27]


Çaycuma mozzarella cheese and Kandıra mozzarella cheese are Turkish cheeses made of buffalo's milk.[28][29]


Cheese, mozzarella, whole milk
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy300 kcal (1,300 kJ)
2.2 g
Sugars1 g
22.4 g
Saturated13.2 g
Monounsaturated6.6 g
22.2 g
505 mg
354 mg
627 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water50 g
Percentages estimated using US recommendations for adults,[30] except for potassium, which is estimated based on expert recommendation from the National Academies.[31]

Mozzarella di bufala is traditionally produced solely from the milk of the Italian Mediterranean buffalo. A whey starter is added from the previous batch that contains thermophilic bacteria, and the milk is left to ripen so the bacteria can multiply. Then, rennet is added to coagulate the milk. After coagulation, the curd is cut into large, 2.5–5 cm (1.0–2.0 in) pieces, and left to sit so the curds firm up in a process known as healing.[citation needed]

After the curd heals, it is further cut into 1–1.5 cm (0.4–0.6 in) pieces. The curds are stirred and heated to separate the curds from the whey. The whey is then drained from the curds and the curds are placed in a hoop to form a solid mass. The curd mass is left until the pH is at around 5.2–5.5, which is the point when the cheese can be stretched and kneaded to produce a delicate consistency—this process is generally known as pasta filata. According to the mozzarella di bufala trade association, "The cheese-maker kneads it with his hands, like a baker making bread, until he obtains a smooth, shiny paste, a strand of which he pulls out and lops off, forming the individual mozzarella."[32] It is then typically formed into cylinder shapes or in plait. In Italy, a "rubbery" consistency is generally considered not satisfactory; the cheese is expected to be softer.[citation needed]

Recognitions and regulations[edit]

Mozzarella received a traditional specialities guaranteed (TSG) certification from the European Union in 1998. This protection scheme requires that mozzarella sold in the European Union is produced according to a traditional recipe. The TSG certification does not specify the source of the milk, so any type of milk can be used, but it is speculated that it is normally made from whole milk.[33]

Different variants of this dairy product are included in the list of prodotti agroalimentari tradizionali (PAT) of the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies (MIPAAF), with the following denominations:[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Galactose is a type of sugar found in dairy products and other foods that is less sweet than glucose. Sugar in foods can lead to caramelization when they are cooked, which increases their browning.


  1. ^ Yun, J. Joseph; Barbano, David M.; Larose, Kristie L.; Kindstedt, Paul S. (January 1998). "Mozzarella Cheese: Impact of Nonfat Dry Milk Fortification on Composition, Proteolysis, and Functional Properties". Journal of Dairy Science. 81 (1): 1–8. doi:10.3168/jds.s0022-0302(98)75543-2. ISSN 0022-0302.
  2. ^ Kotkin, Carole (October–November 2006). "Burrata mozzarella's creamy cousin makes a fresh impression". The Wine News Magazine. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007. Retrieved 1 April 2008.
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  10. ^ Regolamento (CE) N. 2527/98 della commissione del 25 novembre 1998 registrando una denominazione - Mozzarella - nell'albo delle attestazioni di specificità. Gazzetta ufficiale delle Comunità europee L 317/14 del 26/11/1998.
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