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American-Made Buffalo Mozzarella

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Photo from Shellie Raney on Flickr.com

True Italian mozzarella is made from the sweet, rich milk of the water buffalo. Not to be confused with the American bison, the water buffalo has its origins in Asia and, according to Wikipedia, was introduced to Europe in the Middle Ages by returning Crusaders. Many good cheese shops carry mozzarella di bufala that is flown in fresh from Italy every day, since the shelf life of this wonderful cheese is only 24 to 48 hours. At present there is only one domestic producer creating fresh mozzarella from water buffalo milk: Woodstock Water Buffalo in South Woodstock, Vermont.

Yesterday's Chicago Tribune ran a story about the five-year-old dairy, which also makes an incredible water buffalo yogurt and plans to produce an ice cream in the near future. Part of the reason water buffalo milk is so delicious in dairy products is its high butterfat content of 8.5 percent. By comparison, cow milk is 4 percent butterfat, goat milk is 6 percent and sheep milk is 9 percent.

There's really no comparison in my mind between mozzarella made from water buffalo milk and that made from cow's milk. The former is supple, sweet, and intensely creamy, while the latter can often be more elastic and tangy. Mozzarella di bufala also makes for the best pizza, melting into a luscious puddle that is the ultimate foil for a perfectly crispy crust.

The article from the Tribune talks about how Woodstock Water Buffalo is trying to grow:

"This was started as a hobby but now is moving toward an entrepreneurial coup," [president and chief executive David] Rachlin said. "Last year, we did about $1 million in sales, and this year it will be about $1.5 million in sales. We have a ways to go, but the product is excellent, and my team and I are very optimistic."

Here's hoping that they meet and even exceed their goals, and maybe their success will pave the way for the establishment of even more water buffalo dairies throughout the U.S.

About the author: Jamie Forrest publishes Curdnerds.com from his apartment in Brooklyn, New York, where he lives with his wife, his daughter, and his cheese.

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