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.