A Day at the Buffalo Mozzarella Farm

Our Rating

What the heck is buffalo mozzarella – or Mozzarella Di Bufala as the Italians would say? Where does it come from? Why is it so special? Why oh why does it taste so good, especially in Italy?! Those are questions I had after moving to Italy and learning how freaking delicious buffalo mozzarella is!

I set out to investigate… and like always, when investigating, I drag my family along to learn something new with me. Being the adventurous person that I am, I didn’t want to go to some non-authentic place where they show you bags of mozzarella. I wanted information from the experts; I wanted to go where the locals bought their mozzarella!

The Vannulo Farm House

I decided the Vannulo family, who have been in the Mozzarella Di Bufala business since 1988, was a good choice. They are known as the MVP’s of mozzarella. They are also one of the only 100% organic mozzarella di bufala farms in the world. The in-the-know locals drive miles to get this mozzarella. You even have to call in the morning to reserve cheese if you want some. It’s that good!

I called them up and asked if we could come to the farm and take a look around. They were so gracious and invited us to come on by. So, I packed everyone up in the car and off we went! Don’t they look thrilled?

The first thing I really needed to know, being a Colorado girl surrounded by lots of buffalo, was why we didn’t make any of this cheese in Colorado? Why do I need to go to Italy for this quality cheese?  How did our big, American bison get to southern Italy?

Well, the first thing I learned was that mozzarella was made from water buffalo, not bison. Yikes, am I feeling silly right now. Italian water buffalo at that. The origin of the Italian water buffalo is not 100% clear. Some think they came over from Sicily around year 1000 and were more than likely brought by the Arabs.  There are many thoughts on this, and most likely we will never know. What we do know is that they make some killer cheese!

Amber got a kiss

Next, I learned authentic Mozzarella Di Bufala is only produced in Italy. To be deemed authentic, it has to be made in the regions of Campania, Lazio, Apulia, or Molise. The buffalo mozzarella from Campana, where we lived, has been deemed DOP and is protected under the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin. This DOP stamp lets people know that it is authentic.  It can only receive this stamp of approval when it is made from the traditional recipe in those specific areas; so that is why you don’t see mozzarella di bufala production popping up around the world. Yes, other people can make it, but it won’t be authentic. Legally, the world traditional can only go on products granted this designation. So, when purchasing, always look for the DOP stamp.

Getting a massage

We arrived at the farm and were immediately met and guided toward the stables. I’m not going to say I wanna die and come back as a water buffalo, but these buffalo live the life! They have a massage station, a bathing station, and their own cute beds. They are never milked until they feel ready. They actually walk to the milking machine, and the milk machine milks them without a human being. Oh, it’s a cool process!  Then, the buffalo can leave the milk machine, have some food, take a nap, or get a massage. The Vannulo family believes that happy buffalo make better and tastier milk. Obviously, they are doing something right because people drive for hours just to buy their cheese.

We also learned about the buffalo, and we were even able to pet them! They were surprisingly calm and ate right from our hands. Awww, I think I want one!

During our tour, we got to see how the cheese is made. The process is done on site and by master cheese Gods who have been trained in the special and sacred making of mozzarella di bufala. The word “mozzarella” comes from the word mozzare, meaning to cut by hand.  So, every morning, they make fresh mozzarella, and we watched them do it right in front of our very own eyes.

We also learned that there is mozzarella made with cow’s milk called fior di latte, but if you have had the real deal you can taste the difference immediately.  You know what they say… “Once you go buffalo…” Well, no. They don’t really say that, but you get my point.

Now for the good part – a private tasting of the Italian white gold! We got to eat some fresh mozzarella di bufala right from the kitchen. Oh, Mamma Mia! The cheese is formed into beautiful little balls, is so creamy, and melts right in your mouth. All you heard us saying as we stuffed as much mozzarella into our mouths was, “Ohhhh”, “Ahhh”, and “WOW.” It was close to a religious experience. If you’re going to taste buffalo mozzarella for the first time, it should be in Italy at a farm. Trust me on this!

There is a cute, little museum and leather shop on site that shows the history of the farm and sells handmade, buffalo leather goods.

Then there is the store – there are two sections: one that serves fresh yogurt and ice cream; and baby, if you never had buffalo vanilla yogurt, you are missing out! We ate all we could and then were flooded with about 50 people who had hopped off a tour bus; so, we bolted to the next building to buy the mozzarella to take home.  We were asked if we had reserved any cheese for purchase. Ummm, no? We need a reservation to buy cheese? Really? Then, locals started pulling up and picking up their cheese. We had to buy some!

Luckily for us, they had reserved us some cheese, unbeknownst to my family. Sometimes, we are some lucky ducks! We happily took home four bags of fresh Mozzarella Di Bufala Cheese. They know how far people drive, so they even package the cheese in a cooler for you to travel home with.

Waiting in line

I would tell you to look for it in your local store, but the Vannulo family does not sell their cheese in mass production nor do they export their foodgasmic cheese; they only produce for locals and the people of Italy.  You can purchase the real deal all over the world but from different farms, we found some Italian Mozzarella Di Bufala from a gourmet grocery shop online.

Got Some!

 

If you happen to be in Italy, stop by the Vannulo farm or pick up some mozzarella di bufala at your local store. Make sure it has the DOP stamp to verify it is the real deal.

 

If you want to do a tour of the Vannulo Farm here is the link to their website. Shoot them and email, and ask them when you can do a tour.

Get ya some! It sure is tasty!

 

Can I help you with anything else in Italy ?

Flights? Compare airlines, dates and prices all in one place with Skyscanner

Do You Need a Hotel?  Check out Booking.com for the best Hotels in the Campania area.

Need some Tours around Italy? Try our Partner “Weekend in Italy” for some great tour and travel ideas. While in the area you should check out Pompeii represents a unique heritage of architecture, sculpture, paintings, and mosaics – don’t miss it!

Need to rent a car? Try SIXT for great rental rates in Europe and they are running a Spring Special | one rental day for free

Want to learn some Italian? Check out . Pimsleur Italian Quick & Simple Course

Don’t forget your Travel Insurance! Worry less about the unexpected. Get a Free 10-Day Look with Allianz Travel Insurance, the world leader in travel insurance. Make sure you’re covered!

 

Have you ever tried real mozzarella? Do you have any questions or funny stories on where you thought mozzarella came from? We would love to hear your thoughts; just drop a comment below!

– Stacey

 

 

 

The Breakdown

51 Comments

  • Reply February 9, 2017

    chloe

    this sounds amazing!!! I absolutely love fresh mozzarella! I would die if I got four bags of fresh cheese!! Haha!! Sounds like such a fun day out and thanks for sharing on FlyAwayFriday!!

  • Reply February 8, 2017

    Kana

    Whaaaat! That looks like SO MUCH FUN! I had no idea that even existed! Mozzarella is my favorite cheese too, yum – I bet that was seriously so fresh! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday, hope to see you again this week!

  • Reply January 31, 2017

    Sandy N Vyjay

    Reading about your odyssey with Buffalo Mozzarella had me saying ‘cheese’, many times over. The cheese looks divine and i can see all of you had a great time. I think getting fresh produce straight from the farm or dairy is an experience which is worthwhile, in the fast paced world of convenience good, these kind of experiences are becoming rarer and rarer.

  • Reply January 30, 2017

    Meg Jerrard

    Wow, thanks for the tip! I had never heard of buffalo mozzarella, but Italians know their food, so I’m always up for a new delicacy!! Amazing that locals drive hours to get this specific cheese – we’re heading through regional Italy later in the year, so I’ll definitely add a visit to the farm onto our itinerary!

  • Reply January 30, 2017

    Dang Travelers

    They even have a massage station! What a great learning experience along with tasty food at the end! Thanks for sharing.

  • I’ve also been to a buffalo farm in Campania and there’s nothing like having a freshly made one. It’s one of the most delicious things and I love it just drizzled with a bit of olive oil, balsamic and served with tomatoes. Yum!

  • Reply January 30, 2017

    savoredjourneys

    Well the family sure looks happy at the end of the tour when the cheese gets tasted! I didn’t know the buffalo had it so good – massages and everything! That must be why it’s so good. We need our water buffalo to be happy so we can have happy cheese.

    • Reply January 30, 2017

      BasketsLife

      Right isn’t that great !! Happy Buffalo happy cheese! and We were all Happy LOL

  • Reply January 30, 2017

    Indrani

    OMG! Buffalo mozzarella and that too fresh! How lucky you are!
    I am reminded of my brief visit I made to one of the cheese making centers in Lucerne, The smell that floated around their was too good and I am reminded of it now reading your post.

  • Reply January 30, 2017

    clare

    They look like they have a great life. I had no idea where Mozzarella came from!! It looks like it would be an interesting dayout 🙂

  • Reply January 29, 2017

    BasketsLife

    Testing

  • Reply January 29, 2017

    Stella the Travelerette

    You are so lucky to do that! I absolutely adore buffalo mozzarella. When I had it in Italy, I could not believe how much better it was than the mozz I grew up on in New York. I would definitely want to visit this place.

  • Reply January 29, 2017

    theboutiqueadventurer

    this looks amazing! I love buffalo mozarella – so a visit to a farm is my idea of heaven. I never knew there was also yoghurt and ice cream!!! fantastic

  • Reply January 29, 2017

    meghanramsey1

    Buffalo mozzarella is so delicious! The history of how we started using buffalo to make mozzarella is interesting! Thanks for the info!

  • Reply January 29, 2017

    Jenna Kvidt

    This looks like so much fun!! I always love learning how things are made, and mozzarella is so delicious. I love how they take such good care of the buffalo and have massage stations for them 🙂 I will have to try and plan this into our next Italy trip!

  • Reply January 29, 2017

    AllGudThings

    Mozzarella cheese on pizza is my favorite. Seems you had great time learning its manufacturing. Keep sharing.

  • Reply January 29, 2017

    Leah Walker (@L_e_a_h)

    Oh, yeah! Buffalo mozzarella is divine. I’m surprised at how many people don’t know that the source of the milk is the reason for its name. I was in this part of the world a few years ago on an Italian road trip and really wanted to visit a farm. Looks like I really missed out.

  • Reply January 29, 2017

    Tom

    I like activities based on food, especially a single food, especially something dear to the heart, and I think you really hit it here with this tour. I’ve never been to a cheese maker anywhere, and I think it would make a brilliant day.

    • Reply January 29, 2017

      BasketsLife

      It was an amazing day we have also done Parmesan Reggiano Cheese Tour in Reggio Emilia that will be coming soon! 🙂

  • Reply January 29, 2017

    Vicki Garside

    What a fun and informative day – and I love that it’s all about cheese! White gold is an accurate description and it’s great that you had a private tasting too!

    • Reply January 29, 2017

      BasketsLife

      Thank you Vicki – yes the Tasting was the best part! YUM!

  • Reply January 29, 2017

    sara | belly rumbles

    The best mozzarella by far is mozzarella di bufala. What a great experience. I have never tried yoghurt or ice cream made from buffalo milk. I really want some now!!

    • Reply January 29, 2017

      BasketsLife

      Thank you Sara it was an awesome day! We didn’t know about the yogurt or ice until we visited either ~ It was amazing Best ice cream I have ever had!

  • Sounds like a fun day out for the family and who knew it was made from water buffalo, now I know!

    • Reply January 29, 2017

      BasketsLife

      HAHAH thank you Jessica ~ see I guess I was not the only one who didn’t know LOL

  • Reply January 28, 2017

    lilytravella

    I did not know about water buffalo! Glad I read this post, it will be great for Pub Quiz nights 🙂

    • Reply January 29, 2017

      BasketsLife

      Me too I had no idea – Oh that sounds like a fun night Pub Quiz Night!

  • Reply January 28, 2017

    Elaine J Masters

    I have loved buffalo mozzarella ever since eating my first caprese here in California. Love hearing about the process and DOP. Now I know. Now I really need to get to Italy!!

    • Reply January 29, 2017

      BasketsLife

      Oh Me too it is one of my favorite things in the world LOL! You should for sure come to Italy!

  • Reply January 28, 2017

    Rhonda Albom

    Massage machines for the buffalos? Haven’t they got the life. I don’t know if I have ever had buffalo mozzarella (I have eaten a lot of pizza in various countries 🙂 ) but I want to try it.

    • Reply January 29, 2017

      BasketsLife

      Hi Rhonda thank you for reading – They really do have a wonderful life. They are treated so well it was nice to see. Probably not in most countries they don’t use it and even it Italy you have to ask especially for Mozzarella di Bufula if you want it on on pizza and only some places do it. 🙂 For sure you should try it!

  • Reply January 28, 2017

    Camilla Danelli

    I remember the last time I was visiting friends in the south of Italy and had a lunch where buffalo mozzarella was the star of the menu. I didn’t like it beforehand simply because I never had the chance to have it handmade and freshbbut since that day I’m in love with it!

    • Reply January 29, 2017

      BasketsLife

      HI Camila thank you for reading! Yes so true if you have never had the real thing it is a whole new experience ! We are in love with it too!

  • Reply January 28, 2017

    Jim ~ ReflectionsEnroute

    If I happen to be in Italy? No, no my friend, I will make a special trip for this. I’m adding it to my summer schedule now. Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration!

    • Reply January 29, 2017

      BasketsLife

      Well Awesome look us up and let us know if we can give you any tips on Italy. After living in Italy for a year we have a really good insight to the country! Thank you for reading !

  • Reply January 28, 2017

    Evanne

    Ummm… must go here. I had no idea about any of this process and you made the cheese sounds sooo delicious. I am really sad I’m so far from Italy now!

  • Reply January 28, 2017

    Jing

    I enjoyed reading your post. I will never see mozzarella cheese the same way again after all that info you shared. 🙂

  • Reply January 28, 2017

    hcura

    Looks like time well spent. Even the little one seems to have enjoyed it!

    I really want to try the vanilla ice cream! I must confess I’m addicted to vanilla and that one has got to be amazing.

    • Reply January 29, 2017

      Baskets Life Travel

      This might be the best ice cream I have ever had – and we have had A LOT!! 🙂

  • Reply January 28, 2017

    fionarabbit2013

    Wow very interesting to read your blog post and get to know more about buffalo mozzarella. I knew nothing about buffalo mozzarella until I read about it here, especially that the authentic buffalo mozzarella must be produced in certain regions in Italy. Really curious as to how the taste is like 🙂

  • Reply January 28, 2017

    Alex

    Now I really have to go to Italy! One more reason to visit this beautiful country. Thank you, Stacey!

  • Reply January 28, 2017

    Momma To Go

    I love buffalo mozzarella!!! I’m going to northern Italy this spring not sure I’ll make it this far south 🙁

    • Reply January 29, 2017

      Baskets Life Travel

      I love it too – you will find it in Northern Italy as well – Not the farms but you will find the mozzarella de bufula and can order in restaurants and buy in the stores – so no worries !

  • Reply January 28, 2017

    Chronic Wanderlust

    I loveloveloved buffalo mozzarella, then I heard how they treat the animals and not I’m not having any. It’s a shame how animals are treated. This place might do it differently though…

    • Reply January 29, 2017

      BasketsLife

      This farm takes amazing care of the animals – they have a massage station, they are not forced to milk they milk when they feel ready they eat and sleep on their own schedule – and the fARM was super clean and after interacting with the buffalo you could say they had no fear of people. They have been loved on –

  • Reply January 28, 2017

    Anne Klien ( MeAnne)

    I love mozzarella on my pizza and salad, with a visit to the cheese farm makes it more authentic experience eating it from the main source. I would love to visit that place too.

  • Reply January 27, 2017

    danik

    Despite being a farmer when I was very young, this still looks like an interesting place to visit. Still not sure about being licked by the cowes tongues 😉

  • Reply January 27, 2017

    Benas

    An absolute great experience ! It was great to see and find out why Buffalo mozzarella tastes so good and how it’s made. Tasting cheese and ice cream and petting buffalos were awesome !

  • Reply January 27, 2017

    GIORGOS SPYRIDAKOS

    To be honest, I have tasted mozzarella only in the pizza. Your trip sounds really good! I like to taste local goodies straight from the source, and I am happy that you shared with us the meaning of the word mozzarella. Cool fact to know 🙂

  • Reply January 27, 2017

    travelwithtarah

    This would be right up my alley!! I love all cheeses, but mozzarella is definitely my favorite. Will definitely have to check this out next time I’m in Italy!

    • Reply January 29, 2017

      Baskets Life Travel

      Me to if it involves food I am in!! If you want to see this farm – which rocks click on the link to their site and just shoot the an email.

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