Italian cheese words
reading the labels
Although they don't boast as much as the French, the Italians make over 400 cheeses.
What kind of cheese is it?
- a latte misto: mixed milk
- bufalino: buffalo milk
- caprino: goat milk
- pecorino: sheep milk
- vaccino: cow milk
How old is it?
- freschi (fresh cheeses), to be consumed within few days of production
- a maturazione breve, to be consumed within a month
- a maturazione media, to be consumed between 1 and 6 months of production
- a maturazione lenta, can be preserved for more than 6 months
- stagionato, a general term for aged cheese Some cheeses, such as Grana Padano, can be kept for far longer; a cheese over 20 months old becomes a Riserva. Vecchio and Stravecchio (extra old) are also used for cheeses such as Asiago.
How is it made?
- a crosta fiorita ('flowery' rind), where white mold forms on the crust (typical of the soft cheeses)
- a crosta lavata ('washed' crust), where the crust is periodically washed with brine (or wine or spirits, if it's ubriaco)
- a pasta cotta ('cooked'), where curd is cooked between 48 and 56 °C
- a pasta cruda (raw), where curd is not cooked
- a pasta filata ('stretched or pulled curd'), where the the curds matures in hot whey, then kneaded, pulled and stretched by hand (mozzarella and fior di latte)
- a pasta pressata ('pressed curd'), where cheese forms are pressed to let the whey flow out before the crust is formed
- a pasta semi-cotta ('semi-cooked curd'), where curd is cooked at less than 48 °C
- erborinati (blue cheeses), where blue or green veins may develop
How hard is it?
- a pasta dura (hard), containing less than 40 % water
- a pasta semidura (semi-hard), containing between 40 % and 45 % water
- a pasta molle (soft), containing between 45 % and 60 % water
What's the fat content?
- grassi (fat), over 42 % fat (whole milk)
- semigrassi (semi-fat), between 20 % and 42 % fat (partially skimmed milk)
- magri (low fat), less than 20 %