If you are really a cheese lover, then visiting Italy is a dream come true. So, before you head off to Italy for a cheese tour, you might want to read this handy Italian cheese guide.
Italy is the land of cheese, and you can choose from a huge variety of different ones, made with different types of milk and aged for different amounts of time. Some cheese is popular and widely available. Other cheeses are certified and protected. With this Italian cheese guide, we hope to give you a head start on what you can expect from some of the most popular cheeses Italy has to offer.
Mozzarella is arguably one of the most popular Italian cheeses, well-known and widespread all over the world. But, you need to remember that it will only taste perfect in Italy.
This is the cheese that you will mainly find as your pizza topping. It is a soft, cow’s milk cheese, in the shape of a ball. For a true Italian cheese experience, you should try buffalo mozzarella: tangier and creamier than cow’s milk mozzarella, in the south of Italy they normally dunk it in a glass of hot water to bring it to room temperature. That is the Italian way to enjoy this world-famous cheese.
Gorgonzola is the world’s most googled cheese. It is mainly produced in Lombardy and Piedmont, but you will be able to find it all over Italy and even in other countries as well.The cheese is a variety of blue cheese and is great on cheese platters, that is served with other cheese varieties and fruit. Mainly made from cow’s milk, but it is also made from goat’s milk in some parts of Italy as well.
Normally soft and crumbly, with a sharp bite from the blue veins of mould. There are two varieties of Gorgonzola: “Dolce” (“sweet”) and “Piccante” (“spicy”; but it actually only means that it is aged for a different amount of time, not that it contains chilli). In Italy Gorgonzola is DOP, which means that it’s got a Protected Designation of Origin, and it can only be produced with authenticity in certain parts of the country.
Pecorino isn’t your typical cheese. As the word says in Italian, it’s made out of sheep’s milk. There are six main varieties of pecorino, all of which have Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). “Pecorino Romano” is probably the best known outside Italy.
The other five mature PDO cheeses are the “Pecorino Sardo” from Sardinia, “Pecorino Toscano” from Tuscany, “Pecorino Siciliano” from Sicily, “Pecorino di Filiano” from Basilicata and “Pecorino Crotonese” from Crotone in Calabria. The more matured cheeses are harder but still crumbly in texture and have buttery and nutty flavours. The other two types, semi-stagionato and fresco (semi-aged and fresh), have a softer texture and milder cream and milk tastes.
Ricotta is the soft and creamy cheese that you will find in many delicious Italian pastries. This type of cheese can be made from sheep, cow, goat or buffalo milk. It depends on the region where it is produced.
This cheese is low in fat and ideal for people who are on diets and looking for alternatives to normal cheese. It can be used in normal dishes, not only in pastries. It’s the filling for most pasta dishes, for example, like ravioli and cannelloni. It also exists in smoked and mature varieties, both a must-try.
Parmigiano-Reggiano is not the same as Parmesan cheese. This cheese can only be produced in a very specific region of Italy: only then it’s allowed to be called by that name. There isn’t a single household in Italy that will not have stock of Parmigiano in their fridge.
I hope that after reading this Italian Cheese guide you will have a better grasp of some of the most popular cheeses of Italy. If you love cheese, a visit to Italy is just the thing for you. There is a huge selection of cheese that is waiting for you to try them.