Soft, white, delicate, and creamy. It’s a bit of heaven on the tongue. This is the beloved Italian Mozzarella di Bufala, and we’re here to discover the secrets of its making.
Mozzarella di Bufala has a long tradition dating back, according to some sources, to the 12th-13th centuries, to the monks of the monastery of San Lorenzo in Capua, who produced ‘mozza‘ or ‘provatura.’ However, it was not until 1570 that the term ‘mozzarella‘ appeared in a text by Bartolomeo Scappi, a cook at the papal court.
The making of Mozzarella Campana has remained unchanged over time. Of course, innovative technological processes have made it more efficient by streamlining certain steps, such as moulding, but the process retains a type of work that is still artisanal which, combined with the special rich milk, is the basis of a masterpiece.
The processing of Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP is a “magic.” A liquid mass that becomes solid, thanks to the skilful use of the ‘menacaso,’ a wooden stick, and the action of boiling water, around 90° C, which is added to the curd in the ‘cumpecina,’ a large vat traditionally made of wood.
But real magic Halle a during spinning – the process of “creating” the Buffalo Mozzarella. To see it happen is truly fascinating. It is precise chemistry turned to beautiful poetry.
The true start of a mozzarella begins when the milk arrives at the dairy, to be transformed into mozzarella. Its processing must begin within 60 hours of milking and follow the strict regulations of the PDO.
Follow all the stages of the making of mozzarella.
After a few minutes when the milk has congealed from the rennet, the lumps of curd are broken with a tool called a “spino” that reduces them to a size of a little more than a walnut. From this point onwards, the solid and liquid phases of the milk are separated, which is known as syneresis.
The liquid phase, removed by sampling, is called ‘sweet whey,’ from which PDO buffalo ricotta is made, while the solid phase is called curd. The latter is left to acidify under whey until it is defined as “mature” and ready for spinning by the cheesemaker, through the spinning test.
Testing the Mozzarella di Bufala
This is an empirical, but absolutely reliable test, which consists in adding boiling water to about half a kilogram of chopped curd which, mixed until it melts, is stretched using both hands and a wooden stick: if the mozzarella stretches evenly without breaking, it is judged “ready” for the next stage of spinning.
When the curd of the Mozzarella di Bufala has reached the right degree of ripeness, it is placed on tables where all the residual whey is drained. It is then cut into strips and placed in the “cumpecine,’ where boiling water is added. The contact between boiling water and curd causes the melting of the mass that is continuously lifted and pulled until a single homogeneous body is obtained.
The Mozzatura of Bufala Mozzarella
The term mozzarella derives from the verb ‘mozzare,” meaning to cut off. This moment in the process consists of cutting the spun paste by hand with index finger and thumb.
After spinning, when the dough becomes homogeneous, the next step is the mozzatura phase: pieces of pasta filata are cooled in water and the skilful hands of cheesemakers give life to mozzarella in various shapes and sizes: round, braid, bocconcini, aversane and others.
The shapes of Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP
In the vast majority of dairies, a significant part of the moulding phase of the Mozzarella di Bufala is carried out manually by the cheesemaker and his assistants. The remaining part involves the use of operating machines known as moulding machines, which are used to produce pieces of a predetermined weight. The Mozzarella di Bufala Campana produced in this way is first left in vats containing cold water to ensure an initial important hardening, which is completed in other vats containing a salt solution to give the product the right final degree of flavour.
The formats allowed for PDO include braids from 25g up to 3kg and round shapes up to 800 grams. The mozzarellas can also be smoked.