Mozzarella cheese is a familiar ingredient, but many of us are accustomed to the low moisture version sold in the grocery store. This type of cheese is excellent for pizzas, either on its own or as part of a cheese blend. If this is the only version you know, it’s time to learn how to use fresh mozzarella cheese.
First, what’s the difference? Well… regardless of the type, mozzarella cheese is made through a process of heating, stretching, and kneading. It’s a soft cheese that doesn’t go through much aging. Most of the difference relates to the moisture content of the two versions of mozzarella.
The fresh version is typically very soft and often contains 60% water, if not more. This cheese is generally stored in water or brine, which preserves the moisture content and keeps the cheese very soft indeed.
Low moisture mozzarella can be made using whole milk or some skim milk. Either way, you’re looking at a drier and firmer version of mozzarella that can be quite stringy. With those differences in mind, let’s talk about fresh mozzarella. As you’ll see, there are plenty of delicious ways to use the cheese.
How To Use Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (10 Ways)
Eat It Plain
The simplest way to use mozzarella cheese is just to eat it. Some commenters on Reddit even mentioned that they never end up making anything with their mozzarella, as they’re too fond of eating it as-is.
And, honestly, fresh mozzarella does taste amazing. Why not tear a few pieces from the mozzarella ball and try for yourself?
Smoke Your Mozzarella
Did you know that you can smoke fresh mozzarella cheese? Doing so gives it a rich and more intense flavor, making it particularly delicious when eaten on its own.
Stuff Mushrooms With Mozzarella
A simple approach is to stuff mushrooms, peppers, or other vegetables with mozzarella and then bake them. The style is exceptional with mushrooms, as you get a fantastic contrast between the earthiness of the mushroom and the freshness of the cheese.
You could easily expand this to create a more complex recipe, such as adding some spinach or drizzling the mushrooms with balsamic vinegar. I’ve even seen a recipe for Caprese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.
Try A Caprese Salad
We can’t go past the caprese salad, given that it’s one of the most well-known fresh mozzarella dishes. It’s also very easy to prepare, which is another bonus. The base of the salad consists of just three ingredients – mozzarella cheese, basil, and sliced tomatoes.
These ingredients are often laid out overlapping each other, then drizzled with olive oil and perhaps balsamic vinegar as well. If you have small mozzarella balls, try building the salad on a skewer instead.
While balsamic vinegar is a classic part of the caprese salad, it’s often best to leave it out initially. This way you get to experience all the nuances of your mozzarella. After all, balsamic vinegar has an intense flavor that overwhelms many other ingredients.
Use It On Pizza
Then there’s pizza, another classic approach. Fresh mozzarella is delicious here, as the fresh and milky flavor is an excellent contrast to the intensity of your other ingredients.
However, you can’t simply slice fresh mozzarella and add it to your pizza. The cheese is too moist for that and will turn your pizza into a goopy mess.
To make decent pizza, you’ll need to dry the fresh mozzarella first. This can be as simple as slicing the mozzarella and pressing it between paper towels at least 15 minutes before you make your pizza.
Add It To Your Sandwiches
For a simple approach, try adding slices of mozzarella to your sandwiches. This works best when you have fresh and vibrant ingredients, including plenty of vegetables. That way, the mozzarella’s flavor doesn’t get overwhelmed.
Don’t forget about the water content of your fresh mozzarella. You might need to layer it between leafy greens to stop your bread getting soggy.
You can even use fresh mozzarella to make grilled cheese sandwiches, but you’ll need to dry the mozzarella a little first.
Drizzle With High Quality Oil
Instead of eating mozzarella on its own, why not drizzle it with some oil and possibly a little salt as well. Doing so adds a little flavor, without taking much away from the mozzarella cheese.
Any type of oil and salt will work, as long as it is high quality. Extra virgin olive oil is an obvious choice here (perhaps some from an olive oil of the month club), but you could also experiment with almond oil or avocado oil.
As for salt, Himalayan salt could work well or perhaps black truffle sea salt.
Pair It With Decent Deli Meat
The saltiness and flavor of deli meat naturally complement the mild milky flavors of your fresh mozzarella. The trick is to find high quality deli meat, ideally products that aren’t overly processed or packed with additives.
Eat It With Honey
Honey and mozzarella is a surprisingly good combo. This is partly because fresh mozzarella has a fairly mild flavor, which gives your honey the chance to shine.
This combo is best with raw honey, as this type of honey often has a rich and complex flavor profile.
Marinate The Fresh Mozzarella Balls
Finally, why not marinate your mozzarella? This is often done using olive oil, herbs, and perhaps sun dried tomatoes. Your mozzarella takes on flavors from the other ingredients, making it taste even better than it did before.
Once marinated, you can use the mozzarella in any of the ways we’ve already discussed.
5 Delicious Recipes Using Fresh Mozzarella
Red Pepper Fresh Mozzarella Lasagna
Lasagna is an amazing way to use fresh mozzarella. This Red Pepper Fresh Mozzarella Lasagna is a better version than most, as it is a vegetarian recipe that uses red pasta sauce and roasted red peppers.
There are also three types of cheese in this recipe (ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella), which make the dish truly stunning. Another feature is the use of no-boil noodles. These mean you can prepare the lasagna quickly with minimal hassle.
Spinach And Cheese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Remember how we talked about stuffing mushrooms with mozzarella cheese? Well, these Spinach And Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms are a great example of that style.
This is an exciting recipe, as the mushrooms are layered with a spinach and feta mixture, then cherry tomato halves, and then the mozzarella balls. You can even use fresh chili as a garnish to make the mushrooms even more exciting.
Alexandra mentions that you can make these with smaller mushrooms as well. However, doing so gets fiddly, as you have much less space to work with
Caprese Garlic Bread
This Caprese Garlic Bread takes the idea of a caprese salad and then does something completely different with it. The recipe starts with conventional garlic bread made on ciabatta and is then topped with the classic caprese ingredients of sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella cheese.
If all of that wasn’t enough, the recipe also has a finishing touch of a balsamic reduction. This makes the flavor profile even more stunning.
Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella
A great feature is that this is a keto friendly side, which means that it is naturally low in carbs. The recipe also provides details for two different dressings. One is simply olive oil, while the other is a more complex caprese-style dressing.
Balsamic Baked Chicken Breast With Mozzarella Cheese
Then there’s this Balsamic Baked Chicken Breast With Mozzarella Cheese. The recipe truly is a delight, with plenty of flavor from balsamic vinegar, red onion slices, and tomatoes.
Still… it’s the gooey macaroni cheese that really sets this recipe apart. Not only does the cheese look amazing on the chicken, but it also adds the perfect texture to your meal.
Types Of Fresh Mozzarella
We’ve been talking as if there were just two types of mozzarella – fresh mozzarella and low moisture mozzarella. However, that’s not the case. There are many sub types within each category. So, let’s look at some of the types and their features.
Fior di Latte
This is the standard fresh mozzarella, the type that’s made from cow’s milk and found at your local store. The mozzarella comes in a variety of shapes. It’s often stored in water, although versions marinated with oil and herbs are common as well.
Basically, if there’s no specific label on your mozzarella, it’s likely to be fior di latte.
This variety is also called buffalo mozzarella or mozzarella di bufala, as the cheese is made using water buffalo milk. Notably, these animals aren’t the same as the buffalos that we see in the United States. They’re more similar to cows instead.
This type of mozzarella is truly divine, as it is much higher in fat than fiore di latte mozzarella and is incredibly creamy. The cheese can be hard to find, as it must be made from a particular type of water buffalo in the Italian region of Campania.
As a result, any bufala mozzarella you see locally has been importanted and is probably expensive. Still… it’s well worth trying some of this mozzarella and savoring the flavor.
This type of mozzarella looks familiar enough from the outside. The inside is an completely different story, as this is filled with a rich cream that also contains fragments of mozzarella curd.
Burrata is delicious when enjoyed on its own or spread onto bread. However, the creamy filling means that this variety won’t work well with all the approaches we’ve discussed today.
The name for this mozzarella translates to rags, which makes sense, as the mozzarella itself is created using scraps. The cheese tends to be very soft and is often soaked in cream.
The lack of firmness means that stracciatella often needs to be added last minute to recipes. Even then, it may be too watery for some meals.
Can You Freeze Fresh Mozzarella?
Mozzarella cheese is freezable, but don’t race to do so just yet. Freezing the cheese noticeably changes its texture, while often compromising the flavor at the same time.
In particular, mozzarella cheese becomes much drier and more crumbly after freezing. It can still be used for some situations, particularly if you’re melting the cheese. However, it’s no longer any good for fresh applications, like including mozzarella in your sandwiches.
Does Fresh Mozzarella Melt?
Fresh mozzarella doesn’t melt well because of its high water content. This is particularly true when the mozzarella has been stored in liquid.
You can get around this issue by using a very high temperature. This is why fresh mozzarella melts when you’re using a pizza oven. Of course, doing so risks drowning your pizza in the process.
To get fresh mozzarella to melt well, you need to first decrease its water content.
How Do You Make Fresh Mozzarella Less Watery?
A simple approach is to slice your mozzarella into relatively thin slices, then leave them sitting in the fridge uncovered for a few hours. Another trick is to leave the mozzarella strips in a colander in the fridge overnight. Doing so should reduce the water content even further.
You can also lay your mozzarella slices on a paper towel, which will absorb some of the liquid. Changing the paper towels a few times while the mozzarella sits should help as well.
Also think about the amount you use. Sometimes the issue is simply that you’re using more mozzarella than you need.
How Long Does Fresh Mozzarella Last?
Mozzarella has a fairly short shelf life. An unopened package will often last no more than a couple of weeks (there should be a date on it stating exactly how long you have).
Once the cheese has been opened, it can last up to a week. However, many people get between three and five days from their fresh mozzarella. Keeping the mozzarella in water or brine can help with the shelf life, but it’s still best to use it as soon as you can.