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What Is Buffalo Mozzarella?

Classic antipasto platter including sliced prosciutto and salami along with olives and assorted varieties of cheese.
A bowl of bocconcini, small balls of fresh buffalo mozzarella.
Fresh basil leaves can be a good accompaniment to buffalo mozzarella.
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  • Written By: Cassie L. Damewood
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2014
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Buffalo mozzarella, or mozzarella di bufala, is a soft type of mozzarella cheese. It's a mild cheese with a slightly sour taste. Buffalo mozzarella, as the name suggests, is mozzarella that is made from buffalo milk, as opposed to traditional mozzarella which is made from cow's milk. It's not made from any buffalo though — buffalo mozzarella is typically made from the rich milk of water buffalos, not from the milk of North American buffalos or bison.

Like cheeses from cow's milk, buffalo mozzarella is also very mild in flavor. Most cheese experts, however, generally agree that buffalo mozzarella should have a slightly sour taste. Its color can range from snowy white to white with a tinge of yellow. It is widely believed that the color of the cheese varies based on the diet of the water buffalos that produced the milk.

This kind of cheese is most commonly used in Italian recipes. It is often served with tomatoes as a simple appetizer or antipasto. It may also serve as the cheese used in Neapolitan pizzas, which is made of fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella .

Besides being used in salads and as a pizza topping, buffalo mozzarella is also a common ingredient in other popular Italian recipes such as lasagne or baked penne pasta casserole. When heated, the cheese becomes slightly creamy. This characteristic is found by some cooks to add a nice texture to hot dishes.

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Soft buffalo mozzarella cheese is traditionally vacuum packaged for commercial sale. A small amount of liquid is usually included in the package to keep the cheese moist. The most common shape of the cheese in these packages is round or oval. Once it is opened, most manufacturers and cooking experts recommend that it be immediately consumed, as it is highly perishable once exposed to air.

Buffalo mozzarella is produced in many parts of the world, including Italy, South America, the US, and Europe. It is not, however, widely available largely because water buffalo is not a commonly domesticated animal.

Buffalo mozzarella is usually an expensive cheese. Its high price tag is largely based on its limited production and short shelf life. The high cost of quickly shipping it to different countries is usually reflected in its hefty final price.

Regular mozzarella cheese is normally made from cow’s milk or a combination of the milk of cows and goats. As opposed to the buffalo variety, it can be purchased as a fresh, soft cheese or in semi-soft or hard forms. Regular, fresh mozzarella is used in recipes much like buffalo mozzarella. The other types can be shredded and used as a topping for hot and cold dishes or sliced and used as sandwich ingredients.

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