Mozzarella cheese: what it looks like, its origins and nutritional values!

When one thinks of pizza, one of the most popular traditional Italian dishes in the world, it is inevitable to imagine the tasty harmony of stringy mozzarella cheese. In fact, in addition to being an ingredient often found on the tables of Italians, mozzarella also boasts a very ancient history. Here are its origins, how it is produced, nutritional values and how to combine it to create tasty and balanced recipes.

The history and origins of mozzarella cheese

The history of mozzarella has its roots in the beautiful regions of southern Italy. This ingredient was first mentioned in the Naturalis Historia, when Pliny The Elder wrote about a cheese that was made in Basilicata and was highly valued for its delicate taste. Over the years, Benedictine monks used to offer a piece of “mozza” on the occasion of certain sacred religious holidays.

But where does the term mozza (which later became mozzarella) come from? This name is derived from the practice of mozzatura, which is a precise artisanal process of choking the spun dough that is done by hand. Mozzarella was produced to avoid any waste of milk , which in those days was difficult to store and was in danger of soon becoming acidic; with hot processing it was possible to reduce this acidity considerably. The definitive name mozzarella, however, dates back to 1570 and, specifically, to the cookbook of Bartolomeo Scappi, who included it in the list of cheeses that were routinely served at the papal table.

How mozzarella cheese is made

The production of mozzarella follows the typical process of string cheese, so raw milk or more commonly pasteurized milk can be used. With raw milk, the product already has the lactic microorganisms that are essential to acidification, although for microbiological safety issues this is the least common solution; in the case of pasteurized milk , on the other hand, it is necessary to add lactic acid bacteria and it is possible to predict the different stages of production. In the latter case, in order to obtain mozzarella, it is essential that pasteurization of the raw milk is slow, otherwise the spinning of the cheese may be compromised.

The nutritional values of mozzarella cheese

Mozzarella is one of the lowest fat cheeses, excluding some special types such as burrata and buffalo mozzarella: it has about 253 calories per 100 grams. One reason mozzarella is often included within a balanced diet is that it has good levels of minerals, particularly calcium, potassium and phosphorus. Also, since it is a fresh cheese, it has a high water content and this makes it ideal for the warmer times of the year.

How to best consume and store mozzarella cheese

La mozzarella cheese is an ingredient which goes very well with both the hot first courses as well as cold ones: for example in baked pasta and in a puff pastry pie plays a streamlined function and mouthwatering, while in cold recipes with pasta or grain cereals combined with seasonal vegetables, enhances the final taste without adding too many calories, compared to other cheeses.

Another important aspect to consider is how to store this product. From the date of opening, it is advisable to consume the mozzarella no later than 3-4 days, storing it in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator in its milky water and with its natural whey.

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