Legend has it, according to a page by the Mozzarella Company, that mozzarella was first created by when curds accidentally fell into a pot of boiling water in a kitchen near Naples, Italy. Before refrigeration and food transportation technology was developed, mozzarella rarely left the vicinity of Naples, it had such a short shelf life. To this day the mozzarella created in this region is considered the best in the world.
According to About.com mozzarella is somtimes made from the milk of a kind of water buffalo that is indiginous to Italy and Bulgaria. This type of milk is very expensive and hence the cheese made from it (Mozzarella di Bufala)is correspondingly costly. Hence most mozzarella is now made from cow’s milk (mozzarella fior di latte.) There is a variety of low fat mozzarella made from skim or partly skim milk.
Unlike most cheese, mozzarella is not aged and is considered best eaten soon after it is made. To create mozzarella one heats the curds in water or whey until they form strings and become soft and elastic. Then the curds are folded, kneeded, and eventually formed into balls, much as a baker creates bread. The entire process is called, in Italian, pasta filata. The resulting cheese can be sold as is or sliced and then sold. It is usually best when sold within a day of making, though mozzarella has a longer shelf life when it is stored in brine or is vacuum packed.
Mozzarella is commonly used on pizza as a topping, though it is sometimes mixed in with other types of cheese such as provolone, chedder, and parmesan. It is also used as an ingredient in salads and in a variety of other dishes