From a caprese salad to a margherita pizza, mozzarella makes every meal cheddar. If you love mozzarella, you’re not alone—more mozzarella is enjoyed every year than any other cheese. But what exactly makes mozzarella so special? Read on to learn all about this white, stringy, and delicious cheese that we curdn’t live without.
Cheese History: The Story Behind Mozzarella
The history of mozzarella can be traced back to the 12th century where there are records of Benedictine monks in Italy preparing a cheese they called mozza. Fast forward a few hundred years and mozzarella made its way to the U.S. with the first wave of Italian immigrants.
However, mozzarella didn’t hit center-stage in the U.S. until after World War II when returning soldiers brought back a taste for Italian food—and of course—mozzarella cheese. From here, mozzarella quickly became a household name, and the rest is history. Today, mozzarella is America’s favorite cheese, and Wisconsin makes more of it than any other state.
Every year, Wisconsin’s cheesemakers lovingly craft almost one billion pounds of mozzarella destined to be enjoyed by cheese lovers across the country.
All About Mozzarella Cheese
How is mozzarella cheese made?
Mozzarella starts life like most other cheeses. Milk is heated with a whey starter (containing good bacteria) and rennet. This process creates curds, which are heated in water or whey until they form strings. (That’s right: this is the original “string cheese.”) These cheesy strings become elastic, at which point cheesemakers stretch, knead, and mold the mozzarella into round balls.
It’s hard work—imagine kneading dough, but the dough is 150 degrees Fahrenheit. What cheesemakers sacrifice in comfort is made up for in outcome: fresh, milky, sweet mozzarella with delicate tendrils that form when pulled. Because mozzarella is a fresh cheese, it’s best eaten within days—if not hours—of being made.
What does mozzarella cheese taste like?
For a remarkably simple cheese, the flavor of mozzarella is anything but. Our favorite mozzarellas strike a perfect balance of milky, grassy, and floral notes with just a hint of tang. It’s sort of like biting into a cool breeze on a warm spring day.
With such a delicate flavor profile—and just a few ingredients—cheesemakers can transform the flavor of mozzarella with just a few subtle tweaks. A bit of extra salt or vinegar (used to help the curds stretch) can make all the difference when trying to create a blue-ribbon-worthy mozzarella.
What’s the difference between mozzarella and burrata?
At first glance, both of these cheeses can look quite similar. After all, they’re both just beautiful balls of white cheese, but they’re actually quite distinct. In a nutshell, burrata is fresh mozzarella but formed into a pouch and filled with cheese curds and cream.
Burrata is richer and more flavorful than mozzarella because of the added mozzarella curds and cream.
How long is mozzarella aged?
Since mozzarella is a fresh cheese, it’s not aged at all. Typically, mozzarella is shipped as fast as logistics allow so it reaches eager cheese lovers as fresh as possible. For other varieties of mozzarella, like low-moisture blocks that we love to grate onto our pizzas, there is a short aging period of two to four weeks. This brief aging period allows the cheese to lose some of its moisture while simultaneously concentrating the flavor.
Must-try Wisconsin Mozzarella
BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella: BelGioioso’s award-winning mozzarella is a classic example of what fresh mozzarella should be: soft, delicate, porcelain white, and delightfully milky. Whether you are enjoying it in a caprese salad or making a Neapolitan-style pizza, this mozzarella demands a spot in your cheese drawer.
Crave Brothers Marinated Mozzarella Ciliegine: Crave Brothers takes the meaning of fresh cheese to new heights by making their mozzarella with milk that comes from cows right across the road from their cheesemaking facility. While normal mozzarella balls are the size of a small orange, Crave Brothers Ciliegine are cherry-sized balls of adorableness. One bite/one ball of cheese, just the whey we like it! This mozzarella is also marinated in Crave Brothers’ signature blend of spices and mixed into olive and canola oil. Making it even more flavorful than other mozzarellas.
Henning Cheese Mozzarella: Craving a pizza night? Look no further than this low moisture, part-skim mozzarella from Henning's Cheese. Henning’s mozzarella is slightly firmer than its fresher siblings, making it ideal for melting on top of a pizza. Since it is low moisture, your pizza won’t get soggy, and your cheese will get beautiful brown blisters as it bakes.
Pairing Mozzarella Cheese
What beer goes well with mozzarella cheese?
With a milder, fresher cheese like mozzarella, we suggest opting for a light and airy beer like pilsner or lager. This will allow the flavor of the mozzarella to shine through without being overpowered.
What wine pairs best with mozzarella cheese?
We love sipping on a light white wine or rosé while enjoying mozzarella. Grab a bottle of sauvignon blanc or a pinot grigio—you won’t be disappointed. Unfortunately, the tannins in red wines can overwhelm mozzarella’s light flavor. Because of this, we would recommend saving your red wines for other cheese and wine pairings.
What accompaniments should I serve with mozzarella cheese?
Fresh seasonal produce makes a great match for mozzarella. You can never go wrong with veggies like heirloom tomatoes, roasted peppers, or even grilled zucchini. Just serve everything alongside a lightly toasted baguette and your choice of olive oil.
If you’re ready to take a deeper look into the world of cheese pairing, we recommend starting with our beginner’s guide to cheese pairing.
We know what you’re thinking, it’s time for a cheese tasting full of Wisconsin’s finest mozzarella. Have cheese delivered right to your door with our continuously updated list of cheesemakers and retailers that allow you to order cheese online. Award-winning Wisconsin Cheese is just a click away.
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