Why Does Mozzarella Smell Like Vinegar? (Revealed!)

Have you ever noticed this and wondered why does mozzarella smell like vinegar?

It’s not particularly pleasant, but is it harmful?

Does it mean that the mozzarella has gone off?

Maybe it’s a good thing because vinegar is known as a preservative.

Can you remove the vinegar smell from the mozzarella?

Is vinegar used when making cheese?

Let’s get to the heart of this smelly question!

If mozzarella smells like vinegar, it is probably a sign that it has gone bad. Mozzarella is usually stored in a liquid to keep it fresh, typically brine. So, it should have virtually no odor, perhaps a mild salty smell. If the cheese or the liquid smells of vinegar or has a sour odor, it is best to throw it away. However, check the list of ingredients first, as vinegar can also be used as a preservative, and if this is the case, the mozzarella should simply be rinsed before use. The smell of ammonia also indicates that the mozzarella is not fit for consumption. 

What Is the Reason for the Vinegar Smell of Mozzarella?

If you are familiar with mozzarella, then you will know it doesn’t really have any kind of smell.

In fact, some people might say it doesn’t taste of anything either!  

When you first open the packet of mozzarella, there could be a slight whiff of salt.

This will be because the mozzarella has been stored in brine to keep it fresh.

Depending on the concentration of the brine, it may smell slightly of salt.

So, any other odors are usually a bad sign and an indication that the cheese has gone off.

If you notice a vinegary smell, try draining the liquid from the mozzarella first.

Vinegar actually has anti-fungal properties and can be used as a preservative.

It is known to kill harmful bacteria and microbes.

Smaller, independent cheesemakers may occasionally preserve mozzarella in a vinegar solution.

If this is the case, you should be able to rinse the mozzarella to remove the vinegar smell.

If there is still a lingering smell of vinegar, it is best to throw the cheese away.

However, it is unusual for commercial manufacturers to use vinegar, and of course, you can always check the list of ingredients.

Vinegar can also be listed as acetic acid.

Is Vinegar Used in Cheesemaking?

However, there is another twist in the story, as vinegar can be used when making cheese, thus potentially accounting for the smell!

As mentioned before, vinegar is an acid and could be used as a coagulant to split the milk, a necessary part of making mozzarella or other cheese.

The milk needs to separate into curds and whey to form solids, and this is usually achieved by using rennet.

The same result can be seen when using an acidic liquid such as lemon juice, citric acid, or vinegar. 

Ideally, the vinegar does need to have an acidity of at least 5% to work effectively. 

Typically, white vinegar will be used for cheesemaking. 

However, once the milk has separated, the curds are usually rinsed to remove the smell of vinegar before being left to drain.

So, in effect, there should be no residual smell of vinegar in the cheese.

And it won’t have been given enough time for the vinegar to actually penetrate the cheese.

How to Make Mozzarella Cheese Using Vinegar

Final Thoughts

If mozzarella smells of vinegar or other unexpected sour odors, then it may be an indication that it has gone bad.

Mozzarella should have no smell other than a hint of salt from the brine solution it is stored in.

However, vinegar can also be used to preserve the cheese, so check the list of ingredients first, and note that it can be labeled as acetic acid.

Vinegar may also have been used in the cheesemaking process to separate the milk and could leave a lingering smell.

If in doubt as to the freshness of the cheese, always check the use-by date and don’t risk food poisoning!

It’s also possible that the cheese has a different odor, so take a look at my other article if you think mozzarella smells like fish.

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