The making of...Burrata
Burrata – the new cheese on the block
If you had mentioned the word "burrata" at dinner tables even 10 years ago, you would likely have been met with questioning faces. For those in the know, the reaction would have been satisfying, as this is a cheese which no-one forgets once they’ve been lucky enough to try it.
So, what exactly is Burrata?
Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese, with an outside casing made from mozzarella filled with a creamy, stringy cheese known as stracciatella. You’ll often see them resemble a small bag, tied at the top end.
A typical serving of burrata
Burrata was first made in the 1920s on the Bianchini farm in the city of Andria in Murgia, Italy. Made initially using excess mozzarella, its popularity gradually increased through to the 1950s, where it became more widely available thanks to local caseficios who began producing it to meet demand.
Burrata was largely sold within Italy until the late 1990s, but since then, restaurants and delicatessens have begun importing this super cheese into the UK to much acclaim. A recent Guardian article described burrata as the “hottest item on menus from London to Edinburgh, Paris to St Petersburg.” Quite some billing.
How to eat burrata?
You can indulge in burrata in a variety of ways from bread and olive oil, to the classic pairing of sun dried tomatoes and artichokes. The creamy centre of the burrata oozes perfectly when cut into and when combined with the mozzarella casing, it really is a perfect fusion of textures.
In Puglia, burrata is regularly served with a simple rocket leaf salad. Simplicity really is the key with buratta and it is highly recommended to let the wonderful flavour and texture of the fresh cheese speak for itself.
Burrata served with olive oil and fresh cherry tomatoes
Here at delicatezza, we provide both imported burrata from Italy for those keen on the original Italian article from Andria in southern Italy (burrata and burratina) and also our very own freshly made burrata, produced every day under the auspices of our very own Salvatore.
We asked Salvatore for an insight into how burrata is made – this is recommended viewing for any cheese lover to witness first hand how every step of the process is so delicate, yet can impact taste and texture so significantly. For those without access to such luminaries, you can read our step by step guide below.
How Burrata is made – a step by step guide
The previous article on mozzarella described the intricacies of making fresh mozzarella. The same process is followed for the outer mozzarella casing used in Burrata. A ball of mozzarella is taken and flattened by hand into a thick disc which is also known as sfoglia – think of a small pizza base and you have the right idea.
Panna – the fat which rises to the top of milk – is imported from Italy and used as the basis of the creamy centre. The stracciatella is fresh made from the same curd as the mozzarella process outlined in the previous article. It is cooked in 95 degree water and hand stretched before being dropped it into cold water to give a stringy texture.
The stracciatella is then hand mixed with fresh panna to complete the burrata centre preparation. A handful of this mixture is then placed into the sfoglia as in the photo below.
Adding stracciatella to sfoglia
The outer mozzarella casing is then folded around the centre before the outer part of the sfoglia is used to tie a knot, to keep the creamy centre from leaking.
Knotting the stracciatella and sfoglia into Burrata
The burrata is then dipped into a bowl of cold water to keep its shape, before it is packaged and ready to be enjoyed.
Historically, freshly made burrata was wrapped in asphodel leaves before being taken to market. Customers could look at the freshness of the leaves to give a strong indication on the freshness of the cheese – withered leaves indicated an old cheese to be avoided. Nowadays, due to concerns over hygiene, producers - including ourselves - provide burrata in plastic casing.
We hope you enjoyed the second instalment in delicatezza’s ‘Making of…’ series. The next instalment in the series will cover the making our delicious fresh sausages.
If you have any comments on this article or if there are any other foods you’d like us to write about, do use the comments box below or the contact form to let us know. We’d be delighted to hear from you.