The Caciocavallo Podolico is a traditional cheese produced with cow’s milk from a specific breed of cattle living in designated areas of Puglia. Caciocavallo is a stretched curd cheese that is made by kneading curd whilst it’s still hot. This process makes the curd firm and elastic, but the Caciocavallo becomes quite hard as it ages.
The “creation” process of this cheese is difficult to describe – a delicate operation that requires practice and skills. It is produced throughout the year, but the full-pace production takes place from March to May only. The maturation time ranges from three months to over a year.
To really appreciate the love and craftsmanship going into each cheese, we broke them production process down into 10 steps:
- The first step is to acidify and heat the milk, the Caciocavallo Podolico is a Pasta Filata or stretched curd style in which the cheese proteins develop a unique character for forming long chains and will stretch out into long threads when heated.
- Once a small amount of lactic acid has been produced, rennet is added to develop a firm curd
- The curd is cut to release the whey and then stirred up
- The curd is heated again to reach desired moisture
- Then it is time to remove the whey and place the curd into draining bags
- The curds are then kept warm to achieve better flavor. This is a delicate step as the acid level and temperature needs to be perfect for the cheese to be able to stretch while keeping its shape later
- The stretch of the cheese realigns the proteins and gives it its unique texture
- The cheese is shaped by hand into its signature pear shape and then chilled in cold water
- The cheese goes into brine
- The final step is to hang the cheese to mature until ready to eat, usually aging about three months or more to reach the full and intense flavor that is associated with the Caciocavallo!
How to enjoy it?
The Caciocavallo Podolico is often enjoyed paired with bread and honey, or simply on its own. You can of course also try a barbequed version, the so called “Caciocavallo Impiccato” or inside an oven with a clay pot of terracotta. Adopt a cow now and share the love!