Burrata: History, Making, and Perfect Pairings

Originating in the sun-kissed land of Puglia in southern Italy, burrata began as a humble farmer’s creation, but quickly rose to the top of world gastronomy.

Its unassuming appearance, resembling a simple bag of mozzarella, hides a rich, melted heart that makes every bite a creamy revelation.

We will delve into the world of burrata: its origins, its artisanal production, and its privileged place on menus around the world.

Get ready to embark on a journey that celebrates Italy’s contribution to the world of cheese, a velvety delight that has, without a doubt, captivated food lovers around the world: LA BURRATA.

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What is Burrata

Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream.

The outer shell consists of firm mozzarella cheese, while the inside contains stracciatella and cream, which give it a rich, smooth texture.

When you cut burrata, the creamy interior often leaks out, making it a delicious and mouthwatering cheese.

Burrata is typically served fresh, at room temperature, and is often paired with tomatoes, basil, olive oil and various dressings in salads or dishes, but it can also be enjoyed on its own or with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.

The name “burrata” in Italian means “buttered,” which gives an idea of its creamy, buttery texture.

It originated in the Puglia region of Italy and has become increasingly popular around the world because of its delicious taste and unique texture.

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How to Make Burrata

Making burrata is an art that dates back to ancient times. We will try to explain as simply as possible how burrata is made.

The Curd

Cow or buffalo milk, raw or pasteurized, is heated to a specific temperature, usually around 35°C (95°F).

Then rennet, a coagulating enzyme, is added to the hot milk to begin the curdling process.

The milk is allowed to stand until it coagulates, thus forming curd. This process usually takes several hours.

Making the Mozzarella Shell

Once curdled, the curd is cut into small pieces with a curd knife. This separates the whey from the curd.

The cut curd is heated in hot whey (or water) until it reaches an elastic consistency. This is the “pasta filata” method, also used in the production of mozzarella and other Italian cheeses.

Part of the elastic curd is pulled and flattened to create a thin disk. This will become the outer shell of the burrata.

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Filling the Burrata

The remaining curd, which has not been heated and stretched, is shredded or torn into rag-like pieces. This is mixed with cream to create a rich, buttery filling called “stracciatella.”

The stracciatella mixture is poured into the center of the flattened mozzarella disc.

Then the edges of the mozzarella are pulled up and around the creamy center, then twisted or knotted at the top to seal the envelope.

The Brine

Finished burrata balls can be briefly soaked in a saltwater brine to add flavor and help preserve them. Burrata is stored in its own whey or in a salt and water solution to maintain its moisture and freshness. It is best eaten fresh, usually within 48 hours of production.

What is the Taste of Burrata?

Burrata has a distinct, milky and slightly sweet flavor. The outer layer tastes very similar to fresh mozzarella, delicate and thin.

The creamy interior is richer and buttery and offers a gentle contrast to the firmer exterior. Some also perceive a hint of lactic acidity, but it’s usually very subtle.

When eaten fresh, at its peak, burrata offers an indulgent experience that highlights the simple pleasure of milk. If you have never tried it, it is worth seeking out for a special treat!

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How to Eat Burrata

Often the simplest way is the best way! Just remove the burrata from its liquid, place it on a plate, and enjoy it with a fork and knife.

Here are some other ways to serve burrata!

  • BREAD: Place burrata on slices of toasted or grilled bread (such as ciabatta). Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and fresh black pepper and perhaps a touch of balsamic vinegar or glaze.
  • SALAD: Burrata goes wonderfully with tomatoes. Try it in a Caprese-style salad with ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper. It’s also delicious with peaches or melon in a summer salad.
  • PASTA: Top freshly cooked pasta with a piece of burrata cheese, some fresh basil and a sprinkling of sea salt. The heat of the pasta will slightly melt the cheese, creating a creamy and delicious sauce.
  • PIZZA: Top a pizza with burrata, fresh from the oven. It can be added to a classic Margherita or to a pizza with prosciutto, arugula and figs for a delicious combination.
  • ROOM TEMPERATURE: Burrata is best enjoyed at room temperature. If stored in the refrigerator, take it out about 30 minutes before serving to let it warm slightly.

Most Famous Toppings

The creamy flavor of burrata can be enhanced with various toppings.

Some examples are:

  • EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL:  Always a classic choice.
  • BALSAMIC VINEGAR: Adds a sweet and spicy contrast.
  • PESTO: Fresh basil pesto works wonders.
  • CHILI OIL: For those who want a little spice.
  • NUTS: Pine nuts or toasted almonds can add a nice crunch.
  • FRUIT: Strawberries, figs or sliced peaches add a touch of sweetness.

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How to Store Burrata

To preserve the freshness and taste of burrata, it’s essential to store it properly.

Store the cheese in the original brine-filled package until ready to eat.

If it has been opened and only partially used, make sure it’s soaked in a salt and water solution in an airtight container. This brine solution helps to maintain texture and flavor.

Store burrata in the coolest part of the refrigerator. Remember that burrata should be enjoyed fresh. Consume it within a couple of days of purchase or immediately after opening.

Can I Freeze the Burrata?

NO. Freezing is not recommended because it may alter the texture and delicate flavor of the cheese.

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Burrata vs Stracciatella vs Mozzarella: What is the Difference?

Burrata, stracciatella and mozzarella are all Italian cheeses that come from the southern regions of Italy and are made primarily from cow or buffalo milk.

While they have some similarities, they have distinct characteristics and are used differently in culinary settings.

Here is an overview of the differences:

Mozzarella

Mozzarella is native to the Campania region of Italy.

It’s made by heating the curd and then stretching and kneading it until it reaches its characteristic smooth and elastic consistency. This process is called “pasta filata.”

It’s generally a smooth, white cheese. It can be sold in various shapes, such as balls or braids, and sizes.

Mozzarella has a mild, milky flavor. It has an elastic, chewy texture when fresh and becomes softer as it matures.

Widely used in salads, on pizza, in sandwiches, or simply eaten fresh with tomatoes, basil, and olive oil in the classic Caprese salad.

caprese salad recipe

Burrata

Native to the region of Puglia.

Burrata starts with a solid mozzarella shell, which is then filled with a mixture of fresh cream and shredded mozzarella (stracciatella).

It looks like a ball of fresh mozzarella, but when you cut it, a creamy interior leaks out.

The outer layer tastes like mozzarella, while the inside is rich, buttery and creamy.

It is typically served fresh in salads, on crusty bread or with ham and fruit. Its creamy texture makes it a luxurious addition to many dishes. Try burrata on tomato risotto!

Stracciatella

Also from the Puglia region.

Stracciatella refers to the creamy mixture of shredded mozzarella and cream. It is the same filling found inside burrata.

It is presented as a mixture of mozzarella pieces torn and dipped in cream.

Stracciatella is rich and creamy, with a mild, sweet flavor.

It is often used as a cream spread on fresh bread or bruschetta, added to salads or mixed into pasta dishes to enrich them.

Basically, if you have tried burrata and cut it, the creamy filling is stracciatella, while the outer shell is similar to mozzarella.

All three cheeses have their own unique characteristics and places in Italian cuisine, and each brings different textures and flavors to the dishes in which they are incorporated.

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How to Substitute Burrata

If you can’t find burrata or want to try something different, here are some substitutes:

  • Fresh Mozzarella: Although it does not have a creamy center, the flavor and texture on the outside are similar. To get a creamier texture, you can open the mozzarella and stuff it with a mix of ricotta and heavy cream.
  • Mascarpone: This Italian cream cheese is thick and spreadable. It does not have the same texture as burrata, but it is creamy and can be substituted in some dishes. Do you want to make homemade Mascarpone? Check out our recipe!
  • Ricotta: Although the texture is grainier, ricotta can be a suitable substitute, especially when mixed with a little heavy cream to give it more richness.
  • Stracciatella: Stracciatella is actually the creamy, stringy interior of burrata. If you can find this cheese on its own, you can mix it with fresh mozzarella.

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History of Burrata

Burrata, and in particular Burrata di Andria in Puglia, is the result of an “invention” in the early 1900s.

Lorenzo Bianchino was a cheesemaker on the Piana Padula farm, in what is now the Alta Murgia National Park in the province of Barletta-Andria-Trani.

The ingenious cheesemaker is said to have invented this delicious cheese during a heavy snowfall that isolated him inside the masseria and prevented him from transporting the milk to the city. Letting the milk go bad was not an option!

So Bianchino went to work, recovering the cream that naturally came out of the milk and, as in the process of preserving butter, creating a shell with the mozzarella paste to try to preserve the fresh product inside.

Then, in addition to the cream, he put the remains of the pasta filata inside. And the rest is a success story that has made burrata an important ingredient in the already rich pantry of Apulian cuisine and in the good graces of chefs.

Today, Burrata di Andria boasts the PGI mark, a Consortium for its protection, founded in 2017, and a production specification that lays down precise rules for a process that, if carried out correctly, can be done not only in the Andria area, but all over southern Italy.

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