Scientists pinpoint the microbes essential to making the unique Italian cheese

mozzarella from has been recognized as a delicacy and has been protected under EU law for nearly 30 years. What makes this mozzarella so special is believed to be the natural whey starter that contains microbes that are crucial to developing the cheese. Scientists from Italy used new , which gives a detailed picture of what microbes are present and in what proportions, to learn how microbes make mozzarella.

“This study sheds light on the intricate interactions of microorganisms throughout the manufacturing process and fosters a deeper understanding of the craftsmanship behind this esteemed Italian cheese,”​ said Dr of the , of the study in Frontiers in Microbiology.

To qualify for protected designation of origin (PDO) status, mozzarella must be made according to a specific . Raw or pasteurized water milk is heated and inoculated with rennet and natural whey starter. This starter causes the curd to acidify quickly, bringing it to the right pH and making it stretchy enough to be molded. The curds that form are ripened for about four hours until they reach the correct pH, when they become elastic and can be stretched and molded under boiling water. These curds are then hardened under running water and brined. Minor variations in this procedure make the difference between the products of different dairies.

To investigate the role of bacteria, and whether this varies between traditional dairies and more modern ones, Levante and her team selected two dairies in that produce mozzarella which qualifies for PDO status: one larger and using more modern technology, one smaller and using more traditional processes. They took samples of the dairies’ milk, natural whey starter, cheese curd before stretching, brine, and mozzarella.

“While both dairies produced PDO mozzarella di bufala Campana, subtle variations, such as temperature and duration of…

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