What is most people's favourite Italian ingredient? Cheese, for sure. And Italians certainly know a thing or two about delicious cheeses. But because of that, when it comes to Italian cheese, it can get really confusing.
There are so many different cheeses that it is hard to know the differences and to understand their different uses, what cheeses go with each dishes.However, with this Italian cheese guide, you will get to know the top cheeses in Italy, and you will learn more about it. Making sure that you will be able to purchase the right Italian cheese next time.
Something interesting about cheese
We have a cheese fact for you. How many different types of cheeses are there in the world? Ten, twenty or even a hundred?
According to the rind, there are 7 different types of cheeses. But then, they can be categorised into many thousands of varieties. And, while I'm sure cheese lovers will give anything to try all of the different types of cheese, can you imagine how long that would take?
Soft Italian cheese
The most common Italian cheeses that you might already be familiar with, are Soft Italian cheeses. Soft cheeses are very popular in Italy and used almost every day, and you can purchase them in every Italian supermarket. Cheeses like Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Mascarpone. Here is some more information about some of the most popular soft Italian cheeses.
- Ricotta. Commonly made from cow’s milk. However, can also be made from Buffalo, sheep or goats’ milk. This is a creamy, sweet cheese and is typically used for pasta and pastry fillings.
- Mozzarella. Traditionally made from cow's milk, but can also be made from buffalo milk. This cheese has a creamy and milky taste. And, it is used mostly in salad and pizza. Some are also using it in pasta dishes. There also is burrata, mozzarella's creamier, buttery cousin.
- Mascarpone. Made from cream. Has a rich and creamy taste. Used for cream alternatives, like pastry fillings and tiramisu.
Semi-soft Italian cheese
Semi-soft cheese is the cheese that is still soft, but that can be cut with a knife. These are less-known cheeses, but many Italian chefs are using these varieties all over the world. These cheeses are easy to find in Italy, but harder to find in other countries. These are some examples of semi-soft Italian cheese.
- Scamorza. Made from cow milk. Has a creamy, waxy and smokey taste. Can be used as a mozzarella alternative in salad, pizza and pasta dishes.
- Fontina. Also made from cow milk. Has a buttery and nutty flavour. Can be used for fondue and truffle pasta.
- Gorgonzola. A blue cheese made from cow milk. Has a creamy texture and sharp notes because of its blue veins. Can be used in pizza, pasta, and risotto.
Hard Italian cheese
Aged for longer and with lower water content, hard Italian cheeses might be amongst the most well known worldwide. Dry and crumbly, hard cheeses are perfect to season your pasta dishes, enrich your cheese boards and just enjoy on their own.
- Parmigiano Reggiano. Made from cow milk. Only produced in a very specific part of Italy, it's the only cheese that can be called with that name. If you are buying parmesan at the supermarket, it will be similar but not the authentic Italian cheese.
- Grana Padano. Similar to Parmigiano, the difference lays in the way the cows are fed and in the ageing time.
- Pecorino Romano. Just like the others, true Pecorino Romano is only made in specific regions of Italy. Made from sheep's milk, it is salty and nutty to the taste. It’s aged for at least five months or more to achieve the proper firmness.
These are just a few of the most popular types of Italian cheese that you can find. You can try them there, and they are easy to buy and find in the UK as well, so you can use as an ingredient in your food. Italians love cooking, and they love adding a variety of cheeses to their food. For cheese lovers, a trip to Italy will feel like heaven.