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Fresh Mozzarella

Pure white, soft and smooth, with a clean, milky flavor—fresh mozzarella cheese is in a class by itself.

Thought to have been a staple of the Roman diet and now made all over the world, fresh mozzarella ("moth-suh-REHL-lah") hails from Southern Italy. In fact, the most famous type of fresh mozzarella, "Mozzarella di Buffalo Campana," is an origin-controlled cheese that's made from water buffalo milk and can only be produced in areas in the southern tip of the country (in and around Campana).

Fresh mozzarella is a spun paste cheese; the curds are dipped into hot whey or water, then stretched and kneaded. The result is a cheese that's moister and softer than regular mozzarella.

Also known as "high-moisture mozzarella" or "Italian-style mozzarella," the two main varieties of fresh mozzarella are bufala (made from water buffalo milk) and fior di latte (made from cow's milk). Both varieties come in various sizes: ovolini are egg-size; bocconcini are bite-size; cilegine are cherry-size; and perline are pearl-size. Mozarella affumicata is smoked fresh mozzarella; burrata is bufala mozzarella molded with water buffalo cream, and manteca is mozzarella that's molded around butter.

Snack on fresh mozzarella, unadorned. Or highlight its fresh taste by sprinkling with salt and pepper and drizzling with olive oil for an elegant and simple appetizer. Fresh mozzarella stars on antipasto platters and cheese plates, especially alongside Parmesan, fontina and provolone. Serve it with crusty breads and focaccia, too.

Fresh mozzarella is often paired with tomatoes. A classic Caprese salad consists of ripe cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and fresh mozzarella. Try a summery take on this classic by threading tomatoes, mozzarella and basil leaves on bamboo skewers to create kebabs for your next patio party. And be sure to try this recipe for Bruschetta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, featuring fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, garlic and Roma tomatoes.

Other vegetables that partner nicely with fresh mozzarella include eggplant, roasted peppers, spinach, onion and mushrooms. Compatible fruits include peaches, melon, pears and berries. Rich meats like lamb and beef, as well as ham and other cured meats are enlivened by the clean, light taste of fresh mozzarella.

Use slices of fresh mozzarella to artfully (and deliciously) top casseroles, polenta and lasagna. Slide the slices into sandwiches and, of course, use it to top pizza (it's a good melter). Try starting your day off on a scrumptious note with this enticing Breakfast Egg Margherita Pizza.

For seasonings, reach for basil, oregano, marjoram, thyme, salt and black pepper. Condiments besides olive oil include balsamic vinegar and any vinaigrette. Olives and pickled onions are also ideal fresh mozzarella partners.

Both red and white wines are perfect accompaniments.

Fresh mozzarella is often sold in liquid to help keep it moist. This liquid—brine, whey or water—adds character to the flavor. While most cheeses develop nicely with age, fresh mozzarella is best when just made and will become sour with age. Store your fresh mozzarella in its liquid in the refrigerator and eat it within a few days. Serve it at room temperature.

Whether you plan to snack on it, serve it as an appetizer, or use it to create a special dish, fresh mozzarella offers a world of mouthwatering possibilities.