Italian cooking is characterized by cheese: hard or soft, cheese is lightly sprinkled or thrown with a heavy hand into almost every dish. For a centuries-old cuisine, one of its most popular cheeses is actually quite young. Hailing from Puglia, the creamy cheese that is burrata was only invented a century ago.
What Is Burrata?
Burrata is a soft cow’s milk cheese that, from the outside, could be mistaken for fresh mozzarella. Both are plump white orbs of Italian cheese, one more solid and elastic than the other. Burrata cheese is distinguishable by its loose texture: small, soft cheese curds and cream are packaged inside an outer shell made of mozzarella.
What’s the Difference Between Burrata and Mozzarella Cheese?
Mozzarella and burrata originated in southern Italy, though burrata is at least four centuries younger. Mozzarella has been a fixture of Italian cuisine since the sixteenth century, at least, and is a key ingredient in Italian cuisine, from pizza to pasta dishes and Caprese salads. Burrata more often is served on its own with olive oil and crusty bread.
When making the cheese, two start off the same way:
Rennet and fresh milk are cooked together until the cheese curds separate from the liquid whey, at which point the curds are drained of the hot whey and kneaded and stretched until they become elastic. Italian cheeses that are pulled into elasticity in this way are called pasta filata.
From here, mozzarella is made by stretching the cheese into a solid round ball.
To get burrata, a mixture of soft curds and fresh cream are stuffed into the unsealed elastic ball and then tied shut. This was invented as a form of reducing food waste in Puglia because it was a thrifty way to make use of leftover mozzarella scraps.
How to Serve Burrata Cheese
Burrata is a versatile semi-soft cheese that makes every dish more luxurious because of its milky flavour and texture. It’s perfect on top of a freshly baked Italian pizza, much like Margherita style. It pairs well with fresh tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil for a salad or crostini. Because burrata is best served fresh, it tastes best at room temperature.
How Long Does Burrata Keep?
Burrata is best served fresh, within a couple of hours after it’s made. Cheese producers have managed to package burrata in a way that extends its shelf life, but it should be consumed within five days after opening.
How to Store Burrata
Placed in an airtight container and covered with water, burrata should be stored in a refrigerator for up to five days.