Why Does Mozzarella Cheese Turn Orange? (Answered!)

Have you ever noticed this strange occurrence and wondered why does mozzarella cheese turn orange?

Surely it’s not normal?

Mozzarella should be a deliciously creamy white color!

Does it mean it’s gone off and shouldn’t be eaten?

And if the mozzarella does have mold, why isn’t it blue or green?

What does it mean if the mozzarella turns orange as you’re cooking it?

Well, I don’t like the sound of any of this; let’s see what’s really happening!

The orange color in mozzarella cheese is usually caused by a harmless bacteria called Brevibacterium linens (B. linens). It can be naturally present in raw milk or intentionally added during cheese-making for color and flavor. Despite being mold, it doesn’t mean the mozzarella is spoiled; it is safe to eat but may affect the taste. The orange color may be stronger if the cheese is stored in brine with sea salt. B. linens is also found on human skin and contributes to foot odor.

Can You Eat Orange Mozzarella?

So, you’re just about to make a tasty pizza or salad and discover your mozzarella has turned orange!

What on earth has happened, and can you still eat orange mozzarella?

Although it may look pretty scary and unappetizing, it’s actually perfectly safe.

The orange color is produced by a bacteria called Brevibacterium linens or B. linens.

Although it is a form of mold, it doesn’t mean the mozzarella has gone off, you can still eat it.

As you know, the basis of mozzarella is raw milk, and this type of bacteria can be found in both cow’s milk and buffalo.

It may even have come from the brine if that is how the mozzarella has been preserved, as it can be present in sea salt.

Admittedly, there may be a difference in the taste of orange mozzarella, but it’s not particularly unpleasant.

And if you are using it as a pizza topping, you won’t notice any change in flavor.

It could become a talking point with your guests if you serve them orange pizza!

It’s actually possible to buy the bacteria in powdered form, as some cheesemakers like to purposely add it.

The bacteria turn the rind orange and give it an attractive appearance.

Port Salut and Muenster are good examples.

And now you know where the expression “cheesy feet” comes from because the bacteria can be found on human skin and causes foot odor.


What Causes Orange-Colored Liquid on a Pizza?

You might sometimes notice that your pizza is dripping orange-colored oil.

So, where does this come from?

The mozzarella may be leaking some liquid, particularly if it has a high moisture content.

The higher the temperature that the pizza is cooked at, then the more likely it is that liquid will be pressed out of the cheese.

However, a much simpler answer is that the oily liquid has come from any pepperoni you are using as a topping. 

This can mix with the moisture from the mozzarella resulting in an orange-colored liquid.

It’s not harmful, but do be careful, as it can be incredibly hot in temperature!

The amount of water in the tomato-based topping can also make a difference. 

If the tomato sauce is quite thin, and you are using high-moisture mozzarella, then the liquids from each will combine.

This can result in a soggy crust with orange-colored oil or liquid or the pizza not being fully cooked in the middle.

Another factor could be if you are using uncooked vegetables, especially mushrooms.

As they begin to cook, they will release water, so it’s always better to pre-saute them first.  

Canned olives or artichokes should also be dried first before being added to the pizza.

Why is Cheese Orange?

Final Thoughts

Mozzarella cheese turns orange through the presence of a bacteria called Brevibacterium linens or B. linens.

It’s a type of mold, but it’s harmless, and the cheese is safe to eat.

The bacteria is found in milk or brine.

It can be deliberately added to cheese to give it an orange color.

Orange liquid on a pizza can come from the moisture in the mozzarella mixing with the tomato sauce or pepperoni topping.

Don’t throw your orange mozzarella away, it’s absolutely fine to use it!

And as we are talking about weird occurrences, here is an article I have written about mozzarella smelling like vinegar.

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