Mozzarella di bufala campana does not need much introduction.
Known and loved all over the world, the queen of the Mediterranean diet is produced almost exclusively in the southern province of Salerno especially in the area of Paestum, Battipaglia and the Sele Plain as well as in the Caserta area. It has an unparalleled flavor and is excellent when enjoyed without any added seasoning.
The flavor of buffalo mozzarella produced in Campania is unmatched and cannot be reproduced elsewhere.
The history of buffalo mozzarella
Mozzarella is a fresh stretched-curd cheese made from curd that is mopped by cheese makers into its characteristic globular, braided, or bocconcini shapes.
There are several hypotheses about the birth of mozzarella and the first buffalo farms, but they all lie in the Middle Ages.
Regardless of which is true, the only certainty is that initially buffaloes were used only as work animals as they proved to be particularly suitable for the marshy areas characteristic of riverine areas. In areas of Campania, characterized by humid heat and marshy soils , buffalo proved to be valuable and irreplaceable animals for cleaning canals and riverbeds.
For many centuries buffalo herds were, therefore, linked exclusively to the concept of marshy and unhealthy areas.
Only later was their milk used to be transformed into spun paste, but it was necessary to wait for King Charles of Bourbon at the end of the 1700s for a truly epochal turning point: it was the king, in fact, who was the first to consider buffalo mozzarella a special product to be exploited to the full to promote Campania.
Charles of Bourbon and his son Ferdinand were very far-sighted and set up the first experimental dairy in history on the Carditello estate.
A buffalo farm was also set up here, and soon the palace was called the “Royal Buffalo Straw Industry.”
Until the Unification of Italy, the production of buffalo products in southern Italy was one of the earliest examples of the dairy industry in Europe. It is not incorrect to say that Carditello anticipated the modernization of the livestock industry by about 100 years.
Even at the Royal site of Capodimonte there was a “Royal cow dairy” that produced buffalo and cow dairy products on a daily basis-a brilliant example of a short supply chain in line with the Enlightenment projects of industry in the 1800s.
With the unification of Italy and, later, with the rise to power of Fascism, the buffalo herd was drastically reduced by about 50 percent: in fact, in order to encourage the wheat campaign, many areas where the herds were located were reclaimed.
In addition, after the 4 Days of Naples, the buffaloes north of the Campania capital were requisitioned by the Germans, and the valuable herd was reconstituted with cattle from the provinces of Salerno and Foggia.
There were many who thought that, given the great reclamation of the marshy areas, the buffaloes would die out very quickly, but they soon had to change their minds as the number of animals gradually increased in the very areas that had been reclaimed.
In 1961, Italy had 5 percent of Europe’s buffalo herd while it currently has as much as 95 percent, concentrated almost entirely in Campania.
Mozzarella di Bufala Campana PDO
In 1996 mozzarella di bufala campana was granted a protected designation of origin. It was then recognized that its distinctive quality characteristics depend essentially or exclusively on the territory where it is produced.
In 2022, nearly 56,000 tons of mozzarella di bufala campana PDO were sold for a total turnover of 530 million euros such that the precious white gold is Italy’s fourth largest PDO product in terms of production value, after Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma.
Dairies and buffalo farms in the southern province of Salerno continue to increase each year and are a destination for tourists and the curious who can, often, also witness the entire production chain as well as taste the fresh dairy products of the day.
With buffalo milk as well as mozzarella, excellent yogurts, creams, ice creams and puddings are prepared with a decidedly richer and fuller flavor than those made with cow’s milk.
Sunrise is located right in the largest buffalo mozzarella production area. Guests at the resort will be spoiled for choice as to which farm they prefer to taste her majesty the mozzarella.
Nothing, however, prohibits those with a sweet tooth from indulging in a little buffalo dairy tasting tour, visiting, then, several dairies and only at the end electing their own place of the heart where they will return each time to enjoy a gastronomic experience unique in the world.