Today we’re talking about capers from Pantelleria, tiny but very rich in flavour. But there’s more, we’ll also...
Provola, Provolone and Mozzarella: different varieties of pasta-filata cheeses
Italian pasta-filata cheeses, also called stretched-curd cheeses, are traditionally from Southern Italy, and they are the most beloved cheeses both in Italy and abroad. Think for instance of Buffalo Mozzarella which has reached record sales in Europe (first of all, in France) and in the USA. In 2021, exports increased by 9.7% and accounted for 37% of total production.
The same thing can be said for Provola and Provolone. In 2021 exports grew globally by 7.6%. Who are the biggest consumers? Extra-EU countries where exports increased by 19.3% compared to last year.
Let’s move on now to tastier topics and let’s take a look at how these cheeses are made and how come they are so delicious. We will, first of all, have a general overview of the pasta-filata technique which is employed to make these delicacies.
The art of stretching the curd
Yes, we can call this an art. If you’ve ever witnessed a curd being stretched, you know that it is an ancient and spectacular ritual which is engaging and carefully organised.
As we have already seen in another article on Italian stretched-curd cheeses, the secret lies in properly manipulating the cheese paste. The cheese paste is plunged in hot water and, thanks to the heat, it forms long and stretchy strings which are then wound into white balls. Each cheese is a unique product obtained with manual skills. Craftsmanship reaches here a peak.
Hands of expert cheese makers truly make the difference. Stretching the curd, tearing it apart and braiding it are all complicated steps. These skills are passed down from generation to generation, like a spell turning curd in simply exquisite cheeses.
Provola, Provoletta and Provolone
Provola and Provolone differ not only in terms of size, but also taste. Provola is usually more delicate, while Provolone has a more intense flavour given by a longer aging.
We also have to mention PDO Provolone del Monaco, a delicacy from the Lattari Mountains located between Sorrento and Capri. Raw milk of the Agerolese cow breed is processed, salted in brine and left to age for at least six months.
It is a simply astounding product. It tastes amazing on its own – in a salad or on bruschetta – and it is also exceptional when cooked since, like all stretched-curd Italian cheeses, it becomes soft and melts with heat. Try it inside rolls or on baked pasta.
What about smoked Provola? Thanks to its unique, intense and unmistakable aroma, it is ideal grilled, on pizza, or breaded and fried, like a breaded cutlet.
My favourite recipe is, however, smoked Scamorza with tomato sauce, straight from the best culinary tradition of Naples.
PDO Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania
Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania is the only Mozzarella in the world to have ever obtained the PDO label. The main reason lies in the kind of milk used.
Like we already said in the article about Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania, buffalo milk is richer in protein, fat and calcium than cow’s milk.
This results in an exceptional cheese which is delicate, but flavourful, soft and enveloping at the same time. And to think that buffalos were once used just to pull the plough!
PDO Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania does not have a century-old story, but it is one of those products that best embody our country’s culinary culture. It is the symbol of Italian cuisine and it is experiencing a great success both within Italy and outside.
Did you know that this year, for the first time in history, French people have eaten more Mozzarella than Camembert? What a satisfying moment!
How to serve Buffalo Mozzarella? Well, you don’t need to do much or actually anything at all, when you are dealing with such a great product.
It tastes incredible on its own or with fresh veggies and then, of course, it tastes exceptional on pizza, on pasta or in salads.
A particular, but tasty combination is mozzarella with fish. Two incredible starters are: PDO Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania with red shrimps or with tuna tartare. A delicious pasta dish is Paccheri pasta filled with Mozzarella and swordfish.
There are so many Italian cheeses and one is more delicious than the next. Pasta-filata cheeses are simply incredible and very versatile. They are delicious both at room temperature and when they are heated, since they become soft and melt. You’re either thinking of a delicious slice of pizza with a lot of stringy Mozzarella right now or you’re lying.