Thursday, December 10, 2009

Italian Cheeses Are Known Worldwide

By Luigi DeMarco

Italian cheeses are some of the best in the world. And while we're all familiar with the top few selections, from our pizza and sandwich consumption, it may surprise you to know there are around 400 different Italian cheeses to choose from. And when it comes to quality and good tasting cheese, the Italians have a great passion for delivering on it, and they do.

From Sicily and from Tuscany, they make the best parmigiano and mozzarella going. Their provolone is beyond compare. They make so many different cheeses by mixing up the types of milk they use, and the processing methods. They utilize sheep milk, and goat milk, cow's milk, and buffalo. Their cheeses are known for their fragrance and great texture. They can be used for cooking or shredding alike.

The Italians take a lot of pride in their cheese quality. And if you go shopping for a quality Italian cheese, just look for the classifications on the label. These are the 'PDO', which means Protected Designation of Origin. And the other is IGT, which means the Protected Geographic Indication. This is known as their stamp of approval as far as quality assurance. Wine uses the same indicators.

When learning about tasty Italian cheeses, you're sure to come across the famous 'Bel Paese' cheese. In Italian, this means 'Beautiful Country'. This cheese has become one of the favorites of all time and one of the best known by people all around the world. It was first made near Milan in a place named 'Melzo'. But it's mostly made in Lombardy, with pasteurized cow's milk. It's meant to be used as a table cheese, but works very well in cooking.

The Italians are definitely passionate about their cheese. They have made it up in the Alpine mountains, where they perfected their methods. It was an isolated affair, but what they brought off the mountain was literally gold made from milk. Caves were used to keep things cold since the idea of refrigeration back then was just a new concept.

They use the same types of tools today as they did back then. After all, if it works, then don't fix it. They use wooden shelves, salt, oil, water, cutting boards and small hammers. The three main ingredients that anyone needs in order to make a cheese, is salt, rennet, and milk. From here you can make all kinds of cheeses, and using different kinds of milk and processes, will produce different cheeses.

Milk is the beginning of all cheese making. Simply broken down, cheese is milk coagulated. Ricotta is a cheese that's made with milk whey and cream. The Italians have four basic types of milk that they use, and they are buffalo, cow, sheep, and goat. But other cheeses may be made up of the milk of yaks, reindeer, or camels.

Italian cheeses are some of the best by far, and it comes from a long tradition of cheese making. They take great pride in their work. So many people go through life eating and enjoying this great craftsmanship, without ever learning anything about it. It's a shame, because it really is an interesting study. Anyone who wants to learn more about the Italians and their cheese, can go online and find tons of information to enlighten them. Next time you eat that pizza, think 'Italian.

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