Mozzarella vs. Burrata: Why and How to Know the Difference
So, Mozzarella and Burrata. If you didn’t know that these were the names of Italian cheeses, wouldn’t you think that these were the names of two siblings from an old Italian fairy tale? Yet, in the family of cheeses, Mozzarella and Burrata appear to be quite close relatives. Here is what they have in common
• Both originate from Southern Italy.
• Both are made from cow’s milk, mostly. But in traditional Italian cheesemaking, milk of the water buffalo is used.
• Mozzarella and Burrata are semi-soft cheeses. It means they have a high content of moisture (35-45%) and a delicate, creamy taste.
• Neither Mozzarella nor Burrata undergoes the so-called aging process when the cheese ripens for some time to acquire the needed texture and flavor qualities. Thus, you can and should enjoy both kinds of cheese as soon as they’re made.
But in truth, these facts may appear not very helpful when you’re looking at the images of Mozzarella and Burrata on the page of the online store, and hardly see any difference. The cheeses look almost the same. Both have the shape of a ball. These cheese balls are smooth, porcelain-white, and their size is similar to the size of a child’s fist. So, how will you tell Mozzarella from Burrata? And why should you really care about the difference? Let’s dig a little deeper and look for the peculiarities of the two kinds of cheese in
• the way they’re made
• their textures and tastes
• the way you should store them
• cooking, of course.
We’re definitely going to discover something interesting.
Get ready to learn this. Burrata is made from Mozzarella. But Burrata is not Mozzarella. Nor is it a “sub-type” of Mozzarella. Burrata is an individual cheese. To make out this paradox, let’s first see how Italians make classic Mozzarella. This traditional cheesemaking method dates back to the 12th century. Pasteurized milk treated with rennet and lactic ferments turns into curds. These curds are put into boiling water, so they get pliable enough to be manually kneaded, pulled, and spun into long and stretchy cheese strings. As soon as the cheese reaches the required consistency, the artisan chops the strings makes familiar Mozzarella balls out of these chops and drops the balls into cool water to maintain the shape. That’s it. Everything is the same for Burrata. But the cheese balls aren’t put into the water at the final stage of the process. Instead, the artisan forms a pouch out of the ball and fills this pouch with remaining Mozzarella curds and cream. Then he seals the pouch at the top and ties it with a thin cheese string. The hearty creamy filling gave Burrata its name. “Burrata” means “buttery.”
Textures and Flavors
So, Mozzarella and Burrata are like twins with different characters. The cheeses may seem similar until you cut them and see what’s inside. The outside of true Mozzarella must be smooth, soft but elastic. When you cut it, some milky moisture may spill out but nothing else. When you take a bite of the cheese, your taste buds will immediately feel its stringy, supple texture and milky, slightly salty flavor. Burrata is Mozzarella stuffed with cheese scraps and cream. Be careful and tender when you cut this cheese open because the stuffing will mildly spill out of the pouch anyway. Fresh Burrata combines stringiness and creaminess, which are flavored with sweetish buttery notes.
Naturally, Mozzarella will be at its best when you serve it fresh and the company of your dearest and nearest eats it immediately. But if you put the cheese in brine, you can keep it chilled in the fridge for a week, but not longer. Most producers of Burrata recommend eating this cheese within 24 hours and claim that its shelf life is 48 hours. Although Burrata is still edible after 48 hours if kept in the fridge, why will you put off enjoying this delight as is or using it for another scrumptious dish?
To give your own description of the textures and tastes of Mozzarella and Burrata, try them as they are, without anything else. After your palate identifies the cheeses, pair them with fresh heirloom or cherry tomatoes and crispy bread. Add some olives and basil if you like. The appetizer is ready. Also, both cheeses will be excellent in vegetable and fruit salads or atop your pasta. But if you’re going to cook something that includes cheese but requires a high temperature, you’d better opt for Mozzarella. For example, pizza or lasagna. Burrata won’t be a good substitution in such dishes. It will lose its creaminess and smoothness. Burrata will be perfect for your morning toasts or sandwiches. Now, the difference is more obvious, right? But can the two cheeses get along with each other? Bonus recipe
Yes, they can! This Mozzarella and Burrata pizza will prove it.
• 1 or 2 individual pizza dough balls
• Tomato sauce or tomato pesto (why not?)
• 2 c. diced Mozzarella
• 1 ball Burrata
• 1/4 c. olive oil
• sea salt
• some fresh basil leaves.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Heat the oven. (Up to 500°F will be great.)
2. Prepare the dough. On a floured bread board or counter, press the dough ball into a flat disk. Use your fingers to press the dough out into a 12-14 inch circle.
3. Coat a baking peel with flour and place the dough onto the peel. Brush the outer 2 inches of the dough disk with the olive oil.
4. Place one-two large scoops of the tomato sauce onto the pizza and spread evenly. Just leave a 1-inch edge, so it doesn’t get burnt.
5. Sprinkle with the Mozzarella and put some basil leaves on top. Add the salt to taste.
6. Bake the pizza for 10 min., until it gets brownish and starts bubbling. If needed, turn the pizza, so it’s baked evenly.
7. Remove the pizza from the oven. Spoon the cream from the Burrata ball over the top. That’s it. Enjoy warm!