Let’s Talk Mozzarella

Two types of mozzarella are produced in the USA – low moisture mozzarella and high moisture mozzarella.  Low moisture mozzarella was developed to fit our transportation and distribution systems and has been available in grocery stores for years.  It usually comes in a block and often is made with part-skim milk.  This is the cheese huge factories produce for the pizza industry. You can buy it already shredded, which I do not recommend.  Pre-shredded cheese has added preservatives like potato starch and cellulose to keep it from clumping.  For pure meltability, nothing beats low-moisture, whole milk, mozzarella!  Whole milk mozzarella also has more flavor. One of my favorite brands of low-moisture, whole fat, mozzarella cheese is Polly-O.  It is available in several local grocery stores and chains including Walmart and Safeway.  However, any well-known brand of whole milk block mozzarella will be a better choice than a part skim milk product.      

High moisture or fresh mozzarella is very different – pillowy, soft, moist and unfortunately very perishable. Fresh mozzarella can be packaged dry in vacuum-sealed plastic packages or packed in water and is commonly made from cow’s milk in the U.S.  Mozzarella labeled Fior di Latte is simply fresh mozzarella made from whole cow’s milk.  I prefer to use fresh mozzarella in the dry pack, vacuum sealed package for pizza.  For flavor, it can’t be beat.  My recommended brand is BelGioioso.  Mozzarella packed in water or brine is best eaten cold.  Delicious Caprese Salad made with garden tomatoes, basil, and extra virgin olive is the classic way to serve it.  It is best not to use mozzarella packed in liquid for making pizza because of its high moisture content which can make your pizza soggy.  

We can’t talk about mozzarella without mentioning Mozzarella di Bufala, which is made with the milk of water buffalo.  Not many local companies produce this due to a lack of buffalo milk.  It is creamy, rich and delicious, but so perishable it must be consumed immediately once opened.  Sometimes authentic Bufala mozzarella imported from Italy can be found in upscale, specialty markets.  This is always eaten cold and not suitable for pizza.

To summarize, fresh mozzarella will have the most flavor.  Dry packed in vacuum sealed bags is the best choice.  It melts quite well.  My favorite brand is a local one, Ferndale Farmstead Fior di Latte.  Unfortunately, I do not think it is readily available.  I also recommend BelGioioso.  If you prefer to use low-moisture block mozzarella, look for full fat cheese, not part-skim.  A good choice is Polly-O brand.  Never use pre-shredded mozzarella, which has additives that prevent it from melting and leave it bland tasting.