Whether you are searching for that picture-perfect cheese pull or simply aren’t a fan of intense cheeses, muenster and mozzarella are easily accessible cheeses for anyone to enjoy.
But are muenster and mozzarella considered similar enough to be used interchangeably? How similar are muenster and mozzarella really?
Muenster and mozzarella both provide the perfect stringy consistency once melted, but muenster is considered a savoury cheese, while mozzarella is much better suited for sweeter dishes.
What is Muenster?
Cheese enthusiasts will notice how similar muenster is spelt to the French Munster cheese. It is believed that muenster is the American take on Munster – specifically wash-rind Munster – which was introduced to America by German immigrants.
As such, muenster is a very American-washed take on its European cousin.
Its flavour has been diluted to a point near blandness. It compares more to any standard American cheese rather than Munster. Its mildness is achieved by limiting the cheese’s ageing to 7 weeks at most.
Muenster uses a base of pasteurized cow’s milk. A little annatto is used in the rind, turning it orange and providing the cheese with a much-needed mild nuttiness.
Most muenster manufacturers will season their cheese, giving it an untypical salty kick. Though again, this doesn’t prevent muenster from being extremely mild.
The main appeal of muenster is its meltability. Because it endures minimal ageing, muenster is very soft, easily melting with little heat. It is most often used when you want that perfect string-pull in pasta dishes or on top of pizzas.
The only difference between a muenster’s centre and its rind is the use of annatto, which is delicious and entirely edible. Annatto is also used in orange cheddar cheese and many other orange cheese varieties.
What is Mozzarella?
Mozzarella was originally only made in the south of Italy but is now made all over Italy. Buffalo milk is used to make fresh mozzarella using the traditional Italian cheese making technique of pasta filata.
The buffalo milk is heated to separate the curds and whey. These curds are left to sit in hot water for a few hours and then are drained and kneaded or pulled like bread.
Such a technique gives mozzarella its signature elasticity. It only takes a little bit of heat for the mozzarella to start melting and produce the picture-perfect string cheese.
That is why mozzarella is so popular; it requires little effort to cook with and can make any meal look delicious.
Due to the diet of buffalo, fresh mozzarella cheese has a very high moisture content. It is typically served within a few hours of being made to stop that moisture from ruining the cheese over time.
With no time to age, mozzarella cheese has little to no taste. It is mainly described as a milky cheese with a slight sweetness that is a natural flavour produced by the buffalo milk base.
Mozzarella that has been dried or had its moisture content reduced is not as fresh tasting as other mozzarellas. However, it is usually more affordable, lasting much longer in the fridge and still tasting delicious.
Similarities Between Muenster and Mozzarella
There are some chefs who like to use muenster and mozzarella in the same dishes, either next to each other or interchangeably. This is because of their shared cheesy characteristics, such as:
- Meltability – The most considerable appeal of muenster and mozzarella cheese is how little heat it takes to melt and provide the perfect cheese pull. Some will combine the two cheeses for the ultimate aesthetic, though they can both provide the same satisfaction.
- Mildness – Like all cheeses, there are some varieties of muenster and mozzarella that have more flavour than others. But for the most part, they are mild cheeses that are easy to pair with a range of dishes.
- Soft Texture – Part of why mozzarella and muenster are so easy to melt is because of how soft they are. With very little time to age, both cheeses are very soft and can add the perfect texture to a range of dishes.
Differences Between Muenster and Mozzarella
Regardless of how similar some cheeses may be, each cheese has its own characteristics that separate it from its closest relation. So, despite their similarities, muenster and mozzarella have even more differences:
- Shelf Life – Dried mozzarella can last up to a month in your fridge before turning bad. But traditional, fresh mozzarella has to be eaten within a few days at the latest to prevent its high water content from ruining the texture of the cheese. Unlike mozzarella, muenster needs to be aged for a few weeks, which makes it last longer in your fridge.
- Ageing – To keep its flavour mild, muenster is only aged for up to 7 weeks. However, that is still 7 weeks longer than traditional mozzarella is aged. Fresh mozzarella can be served within a few hours of being made and requires no ageing time at all.
- Appearance – Muenster and mozzarella may look the same once they are melted, but as regular cheeses, they look very different. Muenster’s orange rind and white centre is a big contrast to the pure white mozzarella.
- Origins – Mozzarella is an Italian cheese through and through, regardless of the more accessible iterations that the UK and America produce. However, muenster is an entirely American cheese. It has German influences but the cheese has been crafted to cater to the less extreme flavour palates of Americans.
- Savoury vs Sweet – While you may not instantly taste it because of the muenster’s mildness, the use of annatto and sometimes salt makes muenster a more savoury cheese. Its savouriness is more noticeable because of its ageing process.
Muenster vs Mozzarella: Which Wins?
You’re only allowed either muenster or mozzarella, so which one do you pick? It’s muenster vs mozzarella, but who wins?
Do You Prefer Muenster or Mozzarella
Muenster and Mozzarella FAQs
Do you still have questions about muenster and mozzarella? Then these FAQs might be of use:
If you’re after a cheese which melts like mozzarella, then muenster is a great option to use. It is mild, like mozzarella, and has a similar level of meltability.
Munster cheese is French but muenster is neither French nor German. Instead, it is an American creation.
Acacia may be a freelance writer by day, but they are a food fanatic by night. They are always trying out new recipes or finding different ways to elevate classical dishes. But their biggest culinary aim is to educate others on the basics of the kitchen so that they too can enjoy delicious food.