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Book Data

ISBN: 9788884991119
Year Added to Catalog: 2005
Book Format: Paperback
Book Art: color photographs, index, dictionary of cheese terms
Number of Pages: 5 x 9, 400 pages
Book Publisher: Slow Food Editore
Old ISBN: 8884991110
Release Date: September 29, 2005
Web Product ID: 290

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Italian Cheese

A Guide to Its Discovery and Appreciation

by Gigi Piumatti, Angelo Surrusca, Piero Sardo


Excerpt from the first edition

As early as the thirteenth century, the monks of San Lorenzo in Capua used to give bread and mozza to the members of the chapter who took part in their processions but it was not until after the seventeenth century that buffalo's milk Mozzarella began to be produced on a large scale in the so-called bufalare or "buffalo pastures". Mozzarella di Bufala is a fresh, stretched-curd cheese made up of very thin layers. It has an elastic texture in the first eight to ten hours after it has been made, becoming softer and more fondant in texture as it matures. Whole buffalos milk is inoculated with a starter culture of the previous day's whey, obtained by leaving the whey from cheesemaking to sour naturally at room temperature, and calf's rennet. The milk coagulates in 20-30 minutes and the resulting soft curd is broken up into walnut-sized nuggets and left to ripen in warm whey for four to five hours, or until the curd becomes plastic, according to a rule-of-thumb "stretch test". The curd is put in boiling water and stretched by drawing it out continuously with a stick. After this, the cheese is shaped and cut into pieces of various weights, depending on production requirements. Mozzarella is pearl-white in colour, has a slightly sour taste and a mossy or gamy nose. When cut, it exudes a few droplets of a whitish whey-like liquid. Mozzarella appears to have taken its name from the verb mozzare, meaning "to cut", a reference to the procedure of cutting the stretched-curd into portions of the desired size. The cheese can be kept at room temperature for between 24 and 48 hours in its own liquid. When fresh, a sliced Mozzarella will reveal a furrow of whey that releases a delicate aroma of buffalo's milk enzymes.

Rennet: liquid, calf's
Body: plastic, soft and springy, with evident signs of leafing. Porcelain-white in colour
Height/weight: 3-13 cm / 60-500 g
Territory of origin: the provinces of Caserta and Salerno, part of the provinces of Latina and Frosinone, and some municipalities in the provinces of Naples, Benevento and Rome
DOP status awarded on 12 June 1996, regulation no. 1107

When Mozzarella di Bufala is sliced, the thin leaves of the inner structure can be seen. A few drops of buttermilk are exuded on cutting.

Cow's, Goat's & Ewe's Milk Whey

The name Seirass, Seras or Seré derives from the Latin Seracium and is the local name for Ricotta in Piedmont and Valle d'Aosta. The product has many different forms in the region, ranging from rounded cones to cylinders or an upturned basketshape. When dried and salted, it may have a roundish shape and varies in weight. The cheesemaking technique is the classic Ricotta method - the whey is heated to 90°C - with the difference that Seirass del Fen whey comes from mountain dairy milk used to make Toma cheese. As is well-known, the whey of soft cheeses produces soft Ricottas while whey from cooked cheeses gives a more solid product. It is also difficult to obtain ricotta from pasteurised milk naturally. After 12-36 hours, the Seirass is taken out of its moulds or cloths and kneaded by hand with white salt. It is then exposed to the atmosphere. This operation is repeated several times. The cheeses are then placed in a dry, well-ventilated room to dry, after which they are wrapped in freshly cut hay (fieno or fen). In some cases, the Seirass is also lightly smoked.

Body: the fresh cheese has a delicate, lumpy body while the mature version has a firm, translucent, brownish-white or straw-white body.
Height/weight: varying from 2-5 kg
Territory of origin: Seirass is made almost everywhere in Piedmont but hay maturing is typical of the valleys around Pinerolo

Ewe's Milk

Rennet is inoculated into ewe's milk to coagulate it and the soft curd is broken down into small pieces before being reheated to a temperature of 40-45'C for 10-15 minutes. After about 24 hours, when the curd has ripened sufficiently, it is stretched and moulded. The future Scamorza cheeses are then cooled in cold water and put in a brine bath for a period that varies according to the weight of the individual cheese. Scamorza can be eaten fresh or it may be aged for a short time. The mature cheese has a fine outer rind and a less elastic, more solid body. It can be used for grating or as an ingredient in a typical traditional local dish called quagghiaridde, or in a wide range of vegetable-based recipes.

Rennet: liquid, calf's
Outer rind: smooth, thin skin. Brownish-white or straw-white in colour
Body: plastic, elastic or solid. Semi-cooked, buttery in texture and without eyes. Ivory-white in colour
Top and bottom: smooth, 10- 16 cm high
Height/weight: 6-12 cm / 300-700 g
Territory of origin: the entire province of Bari

Price: $25.00
Format: Paperback
Status: Currently On Backorder
Temporarily out of stock.

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