Did you know Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese is made from Italian Water Buffalo?
Hi There! SO, what the heck is buffalo mozzarella cheese – 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 cheese 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!
Who Makes Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese
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 buffalo mozzarella cheese. 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 buffalo mozzarella cheese. 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?
Italian Water Buffalo
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 buffalo mozzarella cheese 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!
Authentic Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese
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 cheese 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.
The Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese Farm
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 Italian water 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!
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
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 buffalo mozzarella cheese. 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 cheese 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.
Buying Fresh buffalo Mozzarella Cheese
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 fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese 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.
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. <–Click the blue link to find some authentic buffalo mozzarella cheese. Now that you are hungry, check out our How to Dine out in Italy Guide Here!
Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese Tour
We took this tour, and paired it with a half day in Paestum, Italy. Paestum is where the last and largest ancient greek ruins, left in the world outside of Greece. This tour is a private VIP tour of the organic Vannulo farm and a guided tour of the ancient sites. It was an amazing day! You can check out our tour here.
There is also a much less expensive food tour, that can be taken to just do tasting, they have 3 different menu prices, and types of tasting. I cannot guarantee you get to see the Vannulo Farm, as I have not done this tour personally – however it is much better priced. Please compare prices for this tour here.
You can also see all things to do in the area compare prices here.
Can I help you with anything else in Italy ?
Flights to the Area?
The nearest airport is Naples International Airport. Compare flight prices here.
Need a Hotel
Campania is the region, and you could stay in Naples, the Almafi Coast area, Or Salerno.
You could rent a car and drive to Paestum and the Vannulo mozzarella farm yourself.
Want to learn some Italian?
Check out . Pimsleur Italian click below for a free Italian Lesson.
Don’t forget your Travel Insurance
Have you ever tried real buffalo mozzarella cheese? 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! If you would love to follow our travels around the world as a professional basketball family please read our story HERE and subscribe to our blog (black triangle top right corner)