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Legend has it that mozzarella was first made when cheese curds accidentally fell into a pail of hot water in a cheese factory near Naples...and soon thereafter the first pizza was made! Actually, new cheeses are often formulated when mistakes happen, so there well may be truth in the tale! Mozzarella was first made in Italy near Naples from the rich milk of water buffalos. Because it was not made from pasteurized milk and because there was little or no refrigeration the cheese had a very short shelf-life and seldom left the southern region of Italy near Naples where it was made. As cheese technology, refrigeration and transportation systems developed the cheese spread to other regions of Italy. However, to this day it is widely known that the best and most highly prized artisanal produced buffalo mozzarella is still found south of Naples near Battipaglia (Paestum) and Caserta where small factories continue centuries-old traditions making buffalo mozzarella fresh daily for their local customers, who line up at the factories to buy this delicacy. The term "Mozzarella" derives sure from the operation of "stumping by hand" practiced in the final phase of the working of the mozzarella. There are two basic ways to make mozzarella: direct acidification of the milk to form the curds or the culture/rennet method. In both methods, raw milk is pasteurized and then coagulated to form curds. Once the curds reach a pH of 5.2 they are cut into small pieces and mixed with hot water and then "strung" or "spun" until long ropes of cheese form. This "stringing of the curd" is unique to cheeses in the "pasta filata" family, such as mozzarella, scamorza and provolone. When the proper smooth, elastic consistency is reached, the curds are formed by machine or hand into balls which are then tossed into cold water so that they maintain their shapes while they cool. They are then salted and packaged. It is a short making process, usually less than 8 hours from raw milk to finished cheese. The critical moment is determining exactly when the cheese is mature and ready to be strung...waiting too long can result in a mushy cheese, while stringing too early can result in a tough dry cheese.. Once strung the curds can be formed into balls of varying sizes or into rolls or loaves filled with sun-dried tomatoes, basil pesto, and other delicacies. Mozzarella can be smoked(mozzarella affumicata) either in a smoking chamber with intense smoke or by "painting" with a liquid smoke. The curds can be mixed with fresh herbs or chilli peppers before forming to flavour the mozzarella. The possibilities and variations are endless. 

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