BeanScene Magazine


Curious caciocavallo

From the August 2015 issue.
Curious caciocavallo

Although not that widely known in Australia, the oddly named caciocavallo – which literally translates to ‘horse cheese’ – is an interesting product with a mild and salty flavour.

Typically made from cow’s milk, caciocavallo is a stretched curd cheese originating in Southern Italy. Today, it is commonly made in the regions of Molise, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia and Calabria – although in recent times its production has stretched even further afield.

The name ‘caciocavallo’ means cheese on horseback and is derived from the tradition of tying pairs of the cheese together with string and hanging them over a wooden pole or beam to age – in the same manner as something may have been slung over a horse in times gone by.

This type of cheese is believed to have stemmed from a variety commonly made during ancient Roman times. In its current form, caciocavallo has a history that spans back to medieval times.

Caciocavallo refers to this cheese in its singular form, while the plural derivative is caciocavalli.

The taste of caciocavallo is similar to that of provolone. As with most cheeses, its mild flavour becomes more pronounced with age.

Caciocavallo is formed into the shape of a pear by hand, with a knot towards the top where it is secured with string. In its fresh state, the cheese is white in colour, however with ageing, it becomes yellow.

The production process for caciocavallo is similar to that of mozzarella, whereby the milk is heated and rennet is added so that it curdles and can then be stretched and shaped while it’s still warm. Traditionally, this process is carried out entirely by hand. Once formed into shape, the caciocavalli undergo a salting phase, whereby they are placed into a brine for salting for anywhere between six hours to a few days.

After salting, the caciocavalli can be hung to age. The time required is totally dependent on the style of caciocavallo being made. The cheese can be aged anywhere from two weeks up to one year.

Young varieties of caciocavallo work well as a table cheese, while aged varieties are perfect grated over pasta or risotto. Caciocavallo also melts well so makes a great alternative to mozzarella when making pizza.

Australian importers
Basile Imports, Formaggi Ocello, Italian Food Australia and Paesanella

Australian producers
La Formaggeria, La Casa Del Formaggio and That’s Amore Cheese

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