FoodSecrets of burrata: The creamy Italian cheese sensation

Secrets of burrata: The creamy Italian cheese sensation

Images source: © Adobe Stock

5:26 PM EDT, June 9, 2024

A specialty with a unique structure—a cheese pouch filled with thick cream and mozzarella scraps—delights with its slightly sweet buttery taste and creamy texture, making it an ideal ingredient for a variety of Italian dishes and beyond. Discover the secrets of burrata.

Apulia is an incredibly picturesque region of Italy. This land, situated on the "heel" and "spur" of the Italian boot, attracts tourists with historic towns, charming villages, beautiful beaches, and fantastic food. The local cuisine is renowned for excellent wines, exquisite olive oil, and delicious cheeses, among which burrata stands out.

The recipe for this extraordinary product was born in Apulia, probably at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries—the first mentions of burrata production date back to this period. However, only half a century later, the standards specifying what the cheese must fulfill to deserve this name were detailed. They were created in 1956 by Lorenzo Bianchini, the owner of a large farm near Bari.

The specialty came about somewhat accidentally. In a mozzarella-producing facility, they sought a way to use production scraps of cheese. It was discovered that they could be used to make an equally delicious product. Through a process involving the addition of acidic whey and calf rennet to fresh milk (once buffalo, now usually a cow), a mozzarella pouch is formed, hiding a filling made of thick cream and shredded mozzarella. It impresses with its velvety texture and sweet, buttery flavor.

Today, cheese from Apulia is popular throughout Europe and the United States, especially in neighborhoods inhabited by descendants of Italian immigrants. Many companies from all over Italy produce it. However, the products from around Bari and Andria are still considered the tastiest (a few years ago, "burrata di Andria" received a "protected geographical indication" certification).

Original cheese is sold in a bundle of asphodel leaves, which indicate the product’s freshness—if they remain green, the burrata is suitable for consumption. In American stores, the specialty is typically packed in airtight foil containers. Fortunately, this does not affect its taste or nutritional value.

Burrata© Adobe Stock

Burrata—nutritional values

Like all dairy products, burrata provides many valuable nutrients. These include complete and easily digestible proteins, an important tissue and bone-building material necessary for regulating metabolic processes and producing enzymes, hormones, or immune bodies.

Cheese from Apulia is a treasure trove of milk fat, the most easily absorbed animal fat. It is quickly digested and converted into energy, with anti-cancer properties, boosting immunity, reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, preventing asthma or arteriosclerosis, and supporting the treatment of diabetes and osteoporosis.

By consuming burrata, we provide the body with a solid dose of calcium, ensuring healthy bones and teeth and helping maintain proper blood clotting and efficient muscle function. It also improves mood and relieves stress. The delicacy also contains significant amounts of phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.

It contains many B vitamins, especially B2 (which plays an important role in metabolism and is necessary for the formation of red blood cells and the production of antibodies by the immune system) and B12 (which increases resistance to stress, prevents anemia, improves appetite, and even reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease).

It is worth noting, however, that burrata provides a significant dose of calories (250-300 kcal per 3.5 ounces), so its consumption should be moderated, especially for those dealing with excess weight.

How to eat burrata

Burrata is a perishable product that lasts no more than two weeks under refrigeration. After opening, it should be consumed within 24 hours, as it loses freshness and flavor. Before consumption, it is worth taking the cheese out of the refrigerator a bit earlier and serving it at room temperature.

How to use burrata? It can be a delicious and simple snack in the form of a Caprese salad—cut the cheese on a plate, surround it with slices of tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with coarsely grated pepper, and top with fresh basil leaves. Burrata also pairs well with aged ham, arugula, lamb's lettuce, mint, and lemon. It goes well with truffle dishes and tastes great with fresh, crispy bread.

This cheese can enrich various salads and pasta dishes. It also works perfectly on pizza. Of course, the delicate burrata should be placed on the pizza after it has been removed from the oven.

Thanks to its slightly sweet taste, the specialty also pairs well with desserts and can be served with strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries.

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