Should I Use Fresh Mozzarella In Lasagna? Does It Make A Difference?

There's a saying most people would agree with — fresh ingredients taste better! Fresh ingredients in a dish could enhance its appeal a lot more. One dish this saying would apply to is lasagna. Should you use fresh over packaged mozzarella? If that's what you're wondering, let's discuss the details!

All it takes to convince you to make the switch is looking at the two ingredients in question.

Take the standard cheese you use for your lasagna and compare it to fresh mozzarella; the difference will be striking.

Fresh mozzarella has a softer, buttery texture and provides a delicate flavor. So, it will make a difference in your lasagna! 

How big of a difference will the cheese make in your lasagna? That's up to the people who will eat the lasagna to decide.

Nevertheless, there's no way you could mistake fresh mozzarella for the packaged variation. There's a clear difference between the two.

Classic lasagna piece on a plate, Should I Use Fresh Mozzarella In Lasagna? Does It Make A Difference?

What's the Difference Between Fresh And Packaged Mozzarella?

It's not tough to see why anyone would pick the packaged cheese you find in stores. It's already prepared and ready to use. There's no shredding step required. 

Plus, it's always readily available. The flavor is one we're all familiar with. So, you won't have to worry about anyone objecting to a lasagna day. 

In any case, what if you want to switch things up? This time, you might have the idea of using fresh mozzarella. What difference will it make? 

We'll have to go over the difference between fresh and packaged mozzarella cheese to find that out. 

Fresh Mozzarella

Italian soft cheese mozzarella

Fresh mozzarella is distinguishable from packaged cheese from the get-go. It's not in a block shape — it's a ball! And, if you take a closer look, it's also not as dry as packaged cheese. 

Once you take it out of the container, you'll be welcomed by little to no aroma. In your hands, you'll quickly notice how soft and tender it is. The packaging is different too. 

The ball comes out of a container with brine; it's that liquid you see surrounding the mozzarella. 

From a visual point of view, there's already a big difference between the two. Now for the important part — how's it taste? 

Fresh mozzarella provides a milky flavor. Some would describe it as a slightly acidic or lactic taste. Texture-wise, it's creamier than regular cheeses. 

Variations of Fresh Mozzarella

Before you head to the store to purchase fresh mozzarella, there's still more to learn. There are different kinds of fresh mozzarella; some will change the texture of lasagna. Therefore, they might be better for making foods that don't involve cooking. 

Mozzarella Di Bufala

Mozzarella di bufala

The first variation you might encounter is mozzarella di bufala. It's Italian for buffalo mozzarella. As the name suggests, it's a cheese that comes from buffalo instead of cow. 

The flavor you get out of this mozzarella variation is unique. However, it's one of the rarer ones you can find. You can find them at Italian groceries that import them. 

If you manage to get your hands on it, use it as soon as possible. Buffalo mozzarella is highly perishable; it only takes a few days to go bad. 

Burrata

White balls of burrata

If you didn't know, burrata cheese uses mozzarella. However, burrata is not the same; it only uses mozzarella as the casing for a soft creamy filling. 

Using it in a lasagna will provide you with a different experience. It's not going to deliver an elastic texture. Instead, it's going to be softer and much creamier. 

Some would consider it more flavorful. Of course, this is a matter of opinion. Nevertheless, it never hurts to experience something new. 

If you want to go with the lasagna you're more familiar with — burrata wouldn't be the best choice. Since you're cooking in the oven, you'll lose the texture that makes burrata unique.

So, it might be better to save money and use the other two mozzarella kinds of cheese. 

In any case, be careful when choosing between fresh mozzarella and burrata. They have a similar appearance, but there's one way to differentiate them.

Burrata is the one that has a knot on top. Use that knot as a reminder it uses mozzarella as a casing for the creamier insides!

Mozzarella Fresca

Mozzarella cheese on a cutting board

When you think of mozzarella, you envision a soft, stringy cheese. Sometimes it's ridiculous how elastic it can be! If that's the texture you want, mozzarella fresca is the cheese for your lasagna.

The name is Italian for fresh mozzarella. This one comes from cow's milk. However, some may contain a mix of goat's and cow's milk. Nevertheless, this mozzarella will melt over cooked dishes.

As it cooks, it will brown into a golden shade. So, it's perfect for your lasagna needs. You can't go wrong with this one.

Packaged Mozzarella

The packaged mozzarella you see in stores doesn't come close to the fresh ones. They'll contain a moisture content of 50% or 52%. Mozzarella cheese with 50% moisture is labeled as low-moisture mozzarella; high-moisture mozzarella has a moisture content of 52% or more.

If you compare it to the fresh mozzarella variations, you'll find that it tends to be drier. The fresh ones can contain moisture content as high as 64%.

Of course, you may be asking — why does that matter? It matters because it can drastically change the lasagna. If you make it with fresh mozzarella, you'll get more of a milky taste.

However, the water in the fresh mozzarella will leave a soupy presence. Since we want to avoid watery lasagna, you could place the mozzarella ball in a tea towel. This way, it can soak up the extra moisture.

So, you won't have to sacrifice the milky and less salty flavor it provides. Yes, packaged mozzarella is saltier than its fresh counterpart.

Elasticity

If all you care about is elasticity, fresh mozzarella probably won't make a difference in your lasagna. Packaged low-moisture mozzarella is better in this area. It browns better in the oven, stretches more, and is saltier.

These are the reasons why it's popular to use in many dishes. That's not to mention the longer shelf life they have. In comparison, fresh mozzarellas should be consumed within three days to get the best experience.

It all depends on what you're looking for in a lasagna. If you're searching for a new experience, use fresh mozzarella. Otherwise, stick to the packaged one. It's better for cooking uses.

Does Fresh Mozzarella Melt the Same As Regular Mozzarella?

Moisture content plays a part in answering this question. As mentioned, fresh mozzarella has a higher moisture content than regular mozzarella. Apart from providing a flavor difference, it also makes a difference in the way you can cook it.

Low-moisture mozzarella is better in cooking situations. You'll quickly see the difference it makes when you replace one with the other. More specifically, fresh mozzarella doesn't melt as well as regular mozzarella.

If you want an example of how it melts, consider Neapolitan pizza.

Neapolitan margherita pizza

The Neapolitan pizza uses fresh mozzarella. As you can see from the photo, it doesn't spread that far after it melts. Even the texture looks different.

It doesn't look like the stringy brown cheese you'd typically find in lasagna. Instead, the mozzarella holds a gooey texture. For this reason, you wouldn't want to use fresh mozzarella out of its brine.

You need to remove the excess moisture beforehand. Otherwise, you'll end up with watery lasagna.

Removing the Excess Moisture

Removing the excess water is a simple job. First, take the mozzarella out of the packaging. Second, shred it into as many pieces as you'd like.

Finally, the most important step is to set the cheese pieces down on a thick cotton towel. While it's sitting there, prepare the other ingredients for the lasagna. Once you're ready to use the cheese, it should be good to go.

If you want to prepare it ahead of time, cut it into pieces first. Then, put the pieces in a separate container. Otherwise, take the original packaging and drain the brine.

Put the mozzarella pieces in the container and refrigerate them. It should be dry by the time you want to use it.

In Closing

Classic lasagna piece on a plate

What do you think? Are you willing to make the switch? Fresh mozzarella could be what's missing in your lasagna. In any case, we hope you found this informative.

Before you go, do you have other mozzarella concerns? Do you need cheese recommendations for a pizza? To learn more, check out:

What Is The Best Mozzarella For A Pizza?

Do you need storage tips for mozzarella? We also offer some answers in this area. For more information, check out:

Should Mozzarella Be Stored In Water?

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