The many uses for Mozzarella are endless. But, before you go for that bag of shredded or sliced mozzarella, there are some things you may want to know. There are two main categories of Mozzarellas. Within each category there are variations but essentially they have different uses. One is better consumed fresh and served cold. The other has better meltability and transforms dishes when heated.
What is more commonly known as the "regular Mozzarella" is really a low-moisture cheese. Low-moisture Mozzarella, which is also known as "low-moisture part-skim", is made by souring fresh Mozzarella just a little longer, and then carefully drying it out. Due to the lower moisture content, it has a longer shelf life and saltier flavor. The lower moisture also lends the cheese better browning and stretching abilities when heated, which makes it a popular choice for any number of dishes.
Fresh Mozzarella is a pillowy soft, bright white cheese that is usually made in different size ball formats. Packed in water at the production facility or hand-wrapped fresh in plastic wrap, it is made with a high moisture content and should be consumed within 7 days of production. When heated, the water evaporates and may settle as a "soupy" or "puddle" presence in the food. While it may work on the Neapolitan style pizza, it doesn't usually work on a heated sandwich or other heated foods. This style is best eaten cold and fresh.
A common misconception with fresh Mozzarella is that it is always made from Bufala milk. This cheese traces it origins to Campania, Italy, where Buffalo were abundant and it was the only milk used to make this cheese. At the time, there was no need to specify the type of milk because it was always made from Bufala. For the purist, there is no other Mozzarella. Mozzarella di bufala (or buffalo mozzarella) from Campania is made according to strict production rules that comply with procedures fine-tuned by the Consorzio di Tutela (Consortium for the Protection of buffalo mozzarella). Founded in 1981, it is the only institution recognized by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to protect, monitor, valorize and promote mozzarella di bufala DOP from Campania. If you are looking for this style, make sure to find the DOP seal on the packaging.
With the modernization and industrialization of cheese and the abundance of dairy cows, fresh Mozzarella is commonly made from cow's milk in the U.S. We can find great quality brands like Crave Brothers and BelGioiso. In addition, there is fresh Buffalo milk Mozzarella available from other countries like Colombia. Annabella Buffalo Cheeses produces fresh 100% grass-fed and free range Buffalo milk Mozzarella.
If you're looking for great quality brands for low-moisture Mozzarella that will melt, brown and transform your dishes go for Polly-O and Boar's Head at your local grocery store. These cheeses have superior elasticity and meltabillity. After all, an ooey-gooey, stretchy, melty experience is what it's all about. Also, I prefer the whole milk low-moisture stuff. It has much better texture, richness and overall flavor. And for you calorie counters, part-skim does NOT mean this will be low fat cheese. Low-fat cheese is a whole other blog, so stay tuned.
DON'T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THE LINKS FOR MORE INFORMATION AND RECIPES