Mozzarella (English: /ˌmɒtsəˈrɛlə/, Italian: [mottsaˈrɛlla]; Neapolitan: muzzarella [muttsaˈrɛllə]) is a southern Italian cheese traditionally made from Italian buffalo's milk by the pasta filata method.

Buffalo mozzarella
Country of originItaly
Source of milkItalian Mediterranean buffalo traditionally; cattle cows in all 167 Italian regions; in some areas also sheep and goat
PasteurisedDepends on variety
Fat content22%
CertificationTSG 1998
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Fresh mozzarella is generally white but when seasoned it turns to a light yellow depending on the animal's diet.[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. Low-moisture mozzarella can be kept refrigerated for up to a month,[4] though some shredded low-moisture mozzarella is sold with a shelf life of up to six months.[5] 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.[6] 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".[7] An earlier reference is also often cited as describing mozzarella. Monsignor Alicandri states that in the 12th century the Monastery of Saint Lorenzo, in Capua, Campania, offered pilgrims a piece of bread with "mozza".[8]


Mozzarella, recognised as a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG/STG) since 1996 in the EU,[9] is available fresh, 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, and other times citric acid is added and it is partly dried (desiccated), its structure being more compact. In this last form it is often used to prepare dishes cooked in the oven, such as lasagna and pizza.[10]

When twisted to form a plait, mozzarella is called treccia. Mozzarella is also available in smoked (affumicata) and reduced-moisture, packaged varieties.

Ovolini refers to smaller-sized bocconcini, and sometimes to cherry bocconcini.[11]


Several variants have been specifically formulated and prepared for use on pizza, such as low-moisture mozzarella cheese.[12][13] 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".[14]

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.[15][nb 1] Some pizza cheeses derived from skim mozzarella variants were designed not to require aging or the use of starter.[16] Others can be made through the direct acidification of milk.[16]

Buffalo's milk

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[17]—it holds the status of a protected designation of origin (PDO 1996) under European Union law[18] and UK law.[19]

Cow's milk

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. Mozzarella affumicata means smoked mozzarella.

Ciliegine is a traditional Italian type of mozzarella which consists of small smooth white balls of mozzarella that are made with pasteurized cow's milk, or sometimes with water buffalo's milk. They are slightly smaller than bocconcini, another type of mozzarella balls that can often be used interchangeably with ciliegine.[20]

Sheep's milk

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.[21][22][23]

Goat's milk

Mozzarella of goat's milk is of recent origin and the producers are still few.[24]


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 are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central

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 pieces, and left to sit so the curds firm up in a process known as healing.

After the curd heals, it is further cut into 1 – 1.5 cm large 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."[25] 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.

Recognitions and regulations

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.[26]

Different variants of this dairy product are included in the list of traditional Italian agri-food products (P.A.T) of the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies (MIPAAF), with the following denominations:[27]

Around the world

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

See also

Explanatory notes

  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. Lambert, Paula. "Mozzarella Cheese". Sally's Place. Media Holdings. Retrieved 1 April 2008.
  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.
  3. Staff. "Mozzarella". Healthnotes. PCC Natural Markets. Retrieved 1 April 2008.
  4. Correll, John (30 November 2011). "Chapter 8 – Cheese". The Original Encyclopizza: Pizza Ingredient Purchasing and Preparation. Fulfillment Press. ISBN 978-0-9820920-7-1. Retrieved 1 April 2008.
  5. Staff. "Shreds: Mozzarella, Low Moisture, Part Skim, Shredded, 6 oz". Organic Valley. Retrieved 1 April 2008.
  6. Staff. "Mozzarella". Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  7. Charter, David (29 March 2008). "Buffalo mozzarella in crisis after pollution fears at Italian farms". The Times. London. Retrieved 1 April 2008.(subscription required)
  8. Alicandri L. (1915). Il Mazzone nell'antichità e nei tempi presenti (in Italian). p. 88.
  9. 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.
  10. "Official Journal of the European Union". 2008. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  11. The Essential Fingerfood Cookbook, p. 40.
  12. Aikenhead, Charles (1 June 2003). "Permanently pizza: continuous production of pizza cheese is now a realistic proposition". Dairy Industries International. Archived from the original on 25 January 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2012. (subscription required)
  13. Fox, Patrick F. (1999). Cheese: Chemistry, Physics and Microbiology (Major Cheese Groups). Volume 2. Aspen Publishers, Inc. ISBN 9780834213395. Retrieved 27 September 2012. ISBN 0412535106
  14. Sinclair, Charles G. (1998). International Dictionary of Food and Cooking. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. p. 417. ISBN 1579580572.
  15. Baskaran, D.; Sivakumar, S. (November 2003). "Galactose concentration in pizza cheese prepared by three different culture techniques". International Journal of Dairy Technology. 56 (4): 229–232. doi:10.1046/j.1471-0307.2003.00109.x.
  16. McMahon; et al. (5 September 2000). "Manufacture of Lower-fat and Fat-free Pizza Cheese". United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  17. Fiore, Roberto (4 June 2009). "Fermiamo il formaggio Frankenstein". La Stampa (in Italian). Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  18. "Commission Regulation (EC) No 103/2008". Official Journal of the European Communities. European Commission. 51: L 31/31. 5 February 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  19. "Mozzarella di Bufala Campana". UK Government. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  20. "Ciliegine mozzarella | Local Cheese From Italy". Retrieved 30 December 2021.
  21. "Sardinian quality". Archived from the original on 18 August 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  22. Latium quality
  23. Abruzzo quality
  24. article in 'L'Espresso'
  25. Staff. "Campana Buffalo's Mozzarella Cheese". Mozzarella di Bufala Campana Trade Organization. Archived from the original on 17 October 2008. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
  26. "Commission Regulation (EC) No 2527/98". Official Journal of the European Communities. European Commission. 41: L 317/14–18. 26 November 1998. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  27. "D.M. n° 54556 del 14/07/2017 "Diciassettesimo aggiornamento dell'elenco nazionale dei prodotti agroalimentari tradizionali ai sensi dell'articolo 12, comma 1, della legge 12 dicembre 2016, n. 238"". Gazzetta ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana nº 176 del 29/07/2017, Supplemento Ordinario nº 41.
  28. "MANDA MOZZARELLA PEYNİRİ 270GR - PERİHAN ABLA". (in Turkish). Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  29. "Kandıra'da ürettikleri İtalyan peynirleriyle ithalatın önüne geçtiler". Retrieved 26 April 2021.
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