I will admit that until a few weeks ago I had never heard of burrata. This dreamy sphere of fresh mozzarella stuffed with a decadent creamy filling originated in Puglia, Italy. The story goes that cheese makers needed a way to use up small bits of mozzarella and began making burrata in the 1920’s. Only recently have cheese lovers in the USA discovered this delicacy, a balloon of smooth mozzarella filled with a cloud of soft cheese made with bits of mozzarella and fresh cream. The buttery soft center oozes out when the burrata is cut open.
Fresh mozzarella is made the old-world way in the mountains of Vermont, by stretching and molding premium raw cow cheese curd in small batches.
The buttery filling is made with the freshest cream mixed with shreds of mozzarella called stracciatelli.
Domenico Marchitelli, came from Puglia, Italy to Vermont wtih 25 years of cheese making experience to make burrata at Maplebrook Farm.
He demonstrated the process of making burrata at the Vermont Cheesemakers’ Festival in July 2013, and I just happened to be there. Wish you could see how he does it? I sat in the front row so I could share his demo with you today! Besides my front row seat, I was fortunate to have an unobstructed view of the television screen showing the cheesemaker’s workspace from overhead.
Cheese curds made of the highest quality cows’ milk are sliced and mixed with warm water first.
The premium raw cow curds are mixed with hot water (between 150 and 200 degrees). As the curds soften, the first water is poured off and more hot water is added. The cheese is allowed to sit in the water to soften, and when the water is poured off, some of the fat goes with it. Then sea salt is added.
The cheese changes as it is worked by hand until it becomes stretchy mozzarella.
The cheese-maker continues to work, and uses the wooden paddle to strerch the cheese.
When the cheese reaches the desired consistency, it can be broken off into small portions (mozzarella knots) and formed into a round, much like pizza dough is stretched, but much smaller.
The filling has been prepared separately…fresh cream and small bits of mozzarella cheese. It takes two people to make burrata: one to stretch the mozzarella pocket and one to place the dollop of cream filling onto the stretched disc of cheese.
The team continues to stuff pockets of fresh mozzarella with the creamy filling.
The ball of mozzarella is squeezed tightly, like a balloon filled with creamy deliciousness, and the top is pinched tightly closed. These freshly made burrata were offered to everyone in the audience, so of course I was excited to taste a sample! So creamy! So delicate in flavor! Such a smoothly textured mozzarella shell over the fluffy filling!
Traditionally these were wrapped in asphodel leaves before being taken to market, so that the buyers would know how fresh the cheeses might be, depending on the condition of the leaves. Are they wilted? Cheese isn’t fresh! Now fresh burrata is wrapped in plastic or packed in a plastic container with sea salt brine. They are made fresh daily at Maplewood Farm and delivered to grocery stores, specialty markets and restaurants. Burrata should be enjoyed within a few weeks, as they are best very fresh. Maplewood Farm makes 8 oz., 4 oz. and 2 oz. sizes.
I couldn’t wait to find some fresh burrata in a store…since I’m in Vermont visiting my mother, I’ve been shopping at Shaw’s. If you’re in New England and looking for these, this is how they are packaged. I almost missed them, even though they were in the display of refrigerated premium cheese. If you’d like to know the names of stores where burrata can be found, click here.
What a perfect treat to serve with tomatoes and basil, or with pasta, or in a salad. Burrata can be warmed slightly to bring out the flavor, or served cold. Burrata can even be grilled! If you haven’t tried this delicate and refreshing cheese, I heartily recommend that you do!
Did you miss my post about the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont? Click here…it was a great day!
I was not compensated for this post, nor did I receive any free product. All opinions are my own.