Earlier this week, Miriam, Krista, Jeff, and I all headed out to Union, NJ to visit one of the area’s largest producers of fresh mozzarella. Lioni Latticini started in 1979 and moved to its current location 20 years later. Now they produce fresh mozzarella using curd made both at their upstate New York dairy and on site using local cows’ milk. They’re also producing burrata and buffalo mozzarella on-site.
After meeting the office staff (aka the Salzarulo family), we were brought into a conference room and asked the greatest question you could ever be asked: “Would you like some pasta.” Yes. Yes, we would.
After the quick nosh paired with some history of the company, we suited up and headed into the production room. Lioni produces at least seven different products simultaneously in a single room. Here we see Miriam Weiskind trying not to drop her camera into a vat of stracciatella and cream. She’s pretty excited and I don’t blame her.
We were super curious about Lioni’s freshly made mozzarella di bufala. There aren’t many active buffalo herds (Asian water bufalo) in the area, so Lioni has a deal with a company in Italy that dehydrates fresh buffalo milk, freezes it, and ships it to NJ to be reconstituted and processed into mozzarella. Here we see Uncle Sal serving moments-old mozzarella to Miriam and Krista, who is overjoyed. When buffalo mozzarella is this fresh, it doesn’t actually taste very good. There’s a sharp acidity followed by a somewhat hollow flavor. I remember this happening at similar mozzarella factories in Italy. A couple hours later, the cheese tastes MUCH better!
Mose of Lioni’s curd is made off-site at their dairy in upstate New York, but their fior di latte product is made with curd processed in house so Uncle Sal can keep his eyes on it.
Lioni also makes ricotta so we sampled two of their ricotta products. Here we see the cows’ milk ricotta on the left and buffalo ricotta on the right. Both are extremely delicious, but incredibly different. The cows’ milk ricotta is creamy and lush while the buffalo is sweeter and a bit more dry.
We had an incredible time meeting the Salzarulo family and touring the Lioni Latticini plant. Big thanks to the Lioni crew for having us and answering our millions of questions!