Monday, September 3, 2007

Water Buffalo Milk: Yum!

Would you believe the world's greatest mozzarella cheese is made from the milk of water buffaloes? That's right. Mozzarella di bufala, which comes from the region of Campania in southern Italy, is made from the milk of these ugly ungulates.

The best buffalo mozzarella is made from unpasteurized water buffalo milk and is usually served on the day it is made. It does not keep for more than 18 hours. This cheese is not available in the U.S. and cannot be made here because of regulatory reasons. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture requires that any cheese sold in America that is made from unpasteurized milk be aged for at least six months. Consequently, while buffalo mozzarella can be found in America, it is always made from pasteurized milk.

Because mozzarella is not aged, it is considered a "fresh" cheese. It also counts as a "spun cheese" because the curds are dipped into heated whey or water and then stretched and kneaded until they become elastic and stretchy.

True, "fresh" mozzarella should be distinguished from the low-moisture, tasteless, rubbery dairy product that passes for mozzarella in most American grocery stores. Fresh mozzarella can be found soaking in vats of salted water or whey at better cheese stores. Some fresh mozzarellas are sold in vacuum packed packages containing liquid to keep the mozzarella from drying out. Fresh mozzarellas have a slightly sour tang and are squishier than most Americans expect.

Fresh mozzarella can always be served in a classic Insalata Caprese. Here are some further serving suggestions (thanks to Bel Gioioso):
  • Top Italian bread with grilled eggplant, tomato, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Top your roast beef sandwich with roasted red peppers and sliced fresh mozzarella. Drizzle with olive oil.
  • Marinate fresh mozzarella in minced garlic, fresh chopped basil, fresh chopped oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and white wine vinegar for at least three hours. Serve as a part of your antipasto platter.

Because mozzarella does not have a strong flavor, consider using smoked mozzarella in oven-baked recipes that call for plain mozzarella. It can add an extra dimension of flavor.


Mark said...

Question: Is the cheese that you are talking about made from the milk of Water Buffalo (as per the title) or Cape Buffalo (as pictured)?

If it is the latter, as pictured, then I'm fearful for the poor soul that milks those enormous beasts.

On another note, I bought a bottle of the Rothschild Pinot that you recommended, I whole heartedly agree with you about the value. It was a very nice Pinot and for under $6 per bottle (that's the regular price at my local wine store) it is a real steal.

James Beebe said...


Thanks for pointing out my error. Cape buffalo are some of the most dangerous animals in Africa. I have replaced the original picture with one of the water buffalo herd at Woodstock Water Buffalo in Vermont ( Their buffalo mozzarella won the top fresh mozzarella prize at this year's American Cheese Society competition.

I'm glad you liked the Pinot Noir.


Tim said...

This is yet another in a lengthy list of posts and emails attempting to locate unpasteurized water buffalo milk.

Can such a thing be legally procured within the U.S.? If so, where might I find it? If not, which DOA official do I have to bribe in order to make it happen?

Great blog, by the way.

Anonymous said...

I know this might sound dumb, but i just don't understand. can you please inform me on how one goes about milking a buffalo. I've always wanted to try but never knew the process. is it difficult? Thanks, your biggest fan,
Jamie Lynn Forbes Jackman.

James Beebe said...


I assume that milking a water buffalo is not unlike milking a cow. What you may be wondering is how one gets the animal to agree to the process. As Mark noted above, however, it is Cape Buffalo rather than Water Buffalo (strictly so called) that are irascible and dangerous. Water Buffalo can apparently be as docile as cows.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for answering my question. I really appreciate all of the help you've given me. I fully intend to try it soon.

Jamie Lynn Forbes Jackman

Anonymous said...

Has anybody actually been able to buy buffalo milk with which to make this cheese at home? The site mentioned herein only sells the finished cheese not the milk to make it...

nadia said...

where can i order or buy bufflo milk?

johnnyiller said...

If anyone can find a place to purchase buffalo milk you would be doing everyone looking for it a great service.

Frank Napoli said...


Would you happen to know where I can purchase buffalo milk in the US? I am in Connecticut.

Thank You

James Beebe said...

Frank, I don't know where to purchase the milk. Maybe look in your yellow pages under 'dairies' or some such and they can give you advice.

Frank said...

Hi James, I tried searching all over. Seems there is a buffalo milk shortage in the US. Also in Italy, an audit disclosed 30% cows milk is being used in the "Bufala Mozzarella". Would be great if the had it powdered. Seems the UK is the only country I know of that sells the milk in stores.
Thanks for your follow up!
Frank Napoli

Larissa Quick said...

Does anyone know where I can find water buffalo milk in Conneticut???