Creamy, tangy, sweet and salty; mozzarella di bufala is a delicious soft, young cheese made from the milk of water buffalo.

capresesaladChances are if you’ve had the real deal in the summertime months, it’s been part of the ever-popular Caprese Salad, which is tomato slices, with mozzarella slices, and fresh basil. Not all mozzarella is made from buffalo milk so if you’re looking for this particular type of cheese, you will want to make sure it contains the words “bufala”.  If you’re thinking, ‘how the heck did water buffalo get to Italy?” You are not alone. It is a question that has several different answers and no consensus. The one consensus is that the first reference to cheese made from the milk of water buffalo is in the 12th century.

From a culinary perspective, mozzarella di bufala is considered a “fresh” mozzarella meaning it is typically packaged in whey and has a stretchy, chewy quality. It is delicious unadulterated with other ingredients but also makes a fabulous creamy cheese addition to any culinary endeavor that features cheese. You can add it to pizzas, eggs, pastas, veggies, and salads, raw or melted. Just know that it doesn’t melt the way a harder, drier cheese melts, so if you are looking for that stringy quality of melted cheese, it would be best to couple this with a drier version of mozzarella.

bufalaFrom a health perspective, Buffalo milk is higher in protein, fat, and various vitamins and minerals than cow’s milk. It is rich source of bio-available calcium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorous as well as a Vitamins B and A. It is lower in cholesterol than cow’s milk and contains an enzyme that provides it with a longer “shelf life” than cow’s milk. The molecular structure of the milk solid is similar to cow’s milk so there is no guarantee that if someone is allergic to cow’s milk they won’t be allergic to buffalo, however, there is research that suggests this is the case.  I imagine it just depends on the type of allergy and exactly what part of the milk some is allergic to. The cheese and yogurt made from buffalo milk contain all the creamy goodness with the added benefit of fermentation; pre and probiotics galore.