If you ask to an Italian what cheese is best on pizza the first answer is always “mozzarella“. The famous Neapolitan pizza could not exist without a good, fresh mozzarella. So let’s explore together the world of mozzarella, why it is good for pizza and which one you should use. At the end you will realize why the best pizza cheese is mozzarella.
Before digging the topic I want to share a bit of Italian food culture about this famous fresh cheese. In Naples – the city of pizza – we have two types of mozzarella. There is in fact Mozzarella and Fior di Latte. According to traditions, on pizza Margherita you should only use Fior di Latte. No worries if this sounds confusing now! I am going to explain everything just below. Continue your reading to know more about the best mozzarella for pizza on a traditional Italian pizza.
In this article:
- Mozzarella OR Fior di Latte for pizza ?
- Fresh mozzarella for pizza
- Buffalo mozzarella on pizza
- Pizza with dry mozzarella
- Home made mozzarella
- Why best pizza cheese is mozzarella
Ingredients for pizza contribute to the authentic taste. Mozzarella is one of the most important ingredients in Italian pizza margherita as well as many others.
Mozzarella OR Fior di Latte for Pizza?
This topic can escalate quickly into a tough discussion. However it is a very interesting argument about Italian food culture and pizza. In fact all over the world mozzarella and fior di latte (translated means something like milk flower) are the exact same product. But if you talk to a Neapolitan pizza maker you will hear a different story.
In Naples and area around when you ask for a mozzarella you get a buffalo mozzarella. If you want to have cow milk mozzarella (which should be the standard) you want to ask for a fior di latte. But, again, this is mostly valid in the Italian region of Campania.
In other words, if you hear some famous Italian pizza maker talking to you about only using Fior di Latte on a traditional margherita pizza, don’t feel bad. It’s fine if you don’t find in shops this fresh cheese… that’s only because you are not searching for a standard mozzarella!
Fresh Mozzarella for Pizza
Especially on some of my Social media channels I always make pizza with fresh mozzarella. It happened a couple of times that I got comments where I was criticized. According to somebody it is not convenient to use fresh mozzarella on pizza but we should use dry mozzarella. The main reason is that fresh mozzarella releases a lot of water or moisture on the pizza.
Well, this is true if you don’t follow a few simple steps.
First of all you don’t want to use mozzarella without drying it. The best way to do so is to prepare mozzarella for pizza a few hours before you want to bake. To dry mozzarella for pizza you want to cut it more or less like a vegetable batonnet. Essentially you want mozzarella sticks. Then you want to put all fresh mozzarella in a sieve where the liquid in excess will drip:
Secondly you don’t want to use cold mozzarella. Make sure you use it at room temperature. This will prevent mozzarella to burn, especially if you using it on a Neapolitan pizza baked at high temperature.
Last but not least, if you are doing pizza in sheet tray, don’t put mozzarella on pizza immediately. Instead add mozzarella during the last 3 or 4 baking minutes.
Buffalo Mozzarella on Pizza
Also buffalo mozzarella is an excellent option on pizza. It has a stronger taste, a different texture and also a different baking behavior than cow milk mozzarella.
If you are lucky enough to live in an area of the world where you can find fresh buffalo mozzarella, then you already know that is incredibly milky. That means you need to dry it much more than a normal fresh mozzarella. Using the same method of the sieve explained before is definitely an option. However I prefer to use this mozzarella in slices. I like when you bite it and you feel that strong taste that only a slice gives.
Remember that the original pizza margherita is not with buffalo mozzarella. Generally you find this pizza on restaurant menu as a variation of the traditional pizza margherita. Of course we are talking about Neapolitan style pizza.
Very recommended is to use buffalo mozzarella on pizza with a less standard toppings. For example I like it a lot with yellow cherry tomatoes sauce and black olives.
If you are using buffalo mozzarella on pizza in tray or pan or for any homemade pizza baked in home oven make sure you use the same method explained for standard mozzarella. It means: add mozzarella only during the last 3-4 minutes of baking.
Pizza with Dry Mozzarella
I never use dry mozzarella on pizza.
For somebody dry mozzarella is a good option to avoid spending time in preparation and to make pizza easier. You just open it, cut it in slices (if you need to) and it’s ready to be baked on pizza. No dripping required, less moisture on pizza. To me this is not an option.
Dry mozzarella does not come with the taste I want on a pizza. It’s very far from a fresh mozzarella. Let alone that the experience when you bite it is just so poor in my opinion. It misses the taste to say the least.
To me also shredded mozzarella for pizza is not an option. Also in this case it is an easy way to save time and make your pizza in an easier way. But you miss so much when it comes to taste.
Sometimes having shortcuts in making pizza is a bad idea. I know that baking pizza with dry mozzarella is easier, especially because of less moisture to manage. But let me tell you that with few steps and a bit of knowledge you will also stop using dry mozzarella on pizza.
Home Made Mozzarella
Making mozzarella at home is definitely possible. If you are making pizza at home for sure you already thought about it. But I would only do it if I was living in a place with no way to buy a decent fresh mozzarella.
The process requires time, the proper milk, a lot of patience and I believe some fails before getting it right.
If you really want to try this fantastic process you want to start searching for raw milk. It is not that easy, at least where I live in Czech Republic. As far as I am aware it really depends on the country you are living in. For example in Italy you can buy raw milk directly from some associations of producers.
To prepare handmade mozzarella you need:
time, the proper milk, right tools, a lot of patience
and I believe some fails before getting it right
After raw milk you need some rennet. This is something you can find more or less easily, even on Amazon. It is required to have the milk to coagulate. A good place to ask for it is in pharmacies.
Finally you also need a kitchen thermometer because to make mozzarella temperature measurement is key. The rest of equipment is sold in kit or explained on dedicated articles.
On the Internet you can find a lot of video and website article about how to make homemade mozzarella. I can share that the process is definitely not easy to learn. Also, I cannot recommend any of the guides on Internet because I personally never tried. As said before, I consider this one the last option. Too much efforts 🙂
Why Best Pizza Cheese is Mozzarella
For a classic and authentic Neapolitan pizza the truth is that there is no other cheese you can use. You cannot prepare a classic Margherita pizza with any other fresh cheese.
The taste and texture of mozzarella cannot be replaced by anything else. Again, if you are searching information on how to make Italian pizza.
So I would change a bit the topic here. Mozzarella is the best cheese for pizza if you want to prepare a real Italian pizza. No matter if you are following a Neapolitan pizza recipe or if you are trying a pizza by the slice or any other Italian pizza style: you definitely want to use fresh mozzarella.
Of course then it’s up to your taste. You maybe don’t like fresh mozzarella. Or you simply want to make a pizza with cheddar. Really, this is your decision. If you like a pizza this way I am happy for you.
My point is that for Italian pizza styles there is nothing better than the trio “mozzarella basil tomato”!
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