Soft Cheese – Stretched Curd and Brined Cheese

Soft Cheese – Stretched Curd and Brined Cheese
Keep in mind, these tips are from my own experience, I’m not a party organizer nor am I a sommelier or a turophile (a cheese connoisseur). I just love cheese, wine and spending time with my friends.

Stretched Curd and Brined

Fresh Mozzarella
Mozzarella di Bufala
Burrata

Mild

Cheeses listed in this Mild quadrant pair well with light white wines and champagnes.

Brined cheese, also sometimes referred to as pickled cheese is matured in a solution of brine (a high-concentration solution of salt in water) in an airtight or semi-permeable container. This process gives the cheese good stability, inhibiting bacterial growth even in hot countries.

Brined cheeses may be soft or hard, varying in moisture content and in colour and flavour, according to the type of milk used; though all will be rindless, and generally taste clean, salty and acidic when fresh, developing some piquancy when aged, and most will be white.

Brined cheese is the main type of cheese produced and eaten in the Middle East and Mediterranean areas.

Fresh Mozzarella or Mozzarella fresco

Fresh mozzarella or mozzarella fresco is a softer whole milk version of mozzarella typically packed in water or whey.

It is a fresh, soft, stretched curd cheese, made with whole cow’s milk. It is sometimes made with buffalo milk. True buffalo mozzarella is highly appreciated around the world than the one made with cow’s milk.

Fresh curds are stretched and kneaded in hot water to form a ball of Mozzarella.

Characteristics & Tasting Notes

This cheese has a soft, moist texture and is full of milky flavour. Similar to other fresh cheeses, mozzarella fresco is high in water content and therefore low on fat. It has a slightly acidic or lactic taste. Compared to mass-processed mozzarellas, the freshly made variant is creamier and much softer.

Fresh mozzarella is generally white but may vary seasonally to slightly yellow depending on the animal’s diet.

Serving Suggestions & Food Pairings

It is just been made and ready to be consumed at room temperature.

Fresh mozzarella’s firmer texture has gained popularity as a slicing cheese on pizzas or flatbreads, snacks, salads or vegetables. It is also used while making variety of recipes, including meats and seafood. It pairs well with fresh tomatoes, pestos, fruits, olives, basil and tapenades.

It is an excellent table cheese used for preparing a number of different dishes and the essential ingredient of the Caprese salad (delicious served sliced with sliced tomatoes and basil in with a balsamic reduction) and the famous Pizza Napoletana.

Fresh mozzarella is excellent in eggplant parmesan or served simply with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. Pairs nicely with fresh arugula as well.

It’s also delicious served with Michetta, a traditional Italian white bread characterized by its round and bulbous shape, hard crust, and an airy, slightly hollow texture of the interior.

Wine Pairings

Having a fragrant aroma of fresh milk, and a delicate creamy flavour, Mozzarella is traditionally paired with light, white wines such as Pinot Grigio. The acidity of Pinot Grigio tangos well with this soft, slightly sweet classic cheese.

Substitutes/Similar cheeses

Because of their textures and tastes, fresh and aged cheeses should not be substituted for each other–with the exception of mozzarella, which also comes packaged. For salads substitute Burrata or for cooking substitute low moisture mozzarella.

Buying

This popular cheese used in Italian dishes also can be purchased fresh. These days fresh mozzarella is available in most supermarkets and Italian stores. Fresh mozzarella balls are sold in a brine, whey or water solution to help them retain their moisture and shape.

Storing

Although not creamy or soft, it’s best consumed quickly after production for a sweet, grassy creaminess and semi-soft texture. Due to its high moisture content, it is stored in water and traditionally served the day after it is made but can be kept in brine for up to a week or longer when sold in vacuum-sealed packages.

Let the cheese soak in the brine solution until ready to consume and eat it within 2-3 days. Consuming fresh is recommended as it becomes bitter and sour with age.

 

Best wine pairing White Wine: Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo
Red Wine: Chianti, Cabernet sauvignon
Sparkling Wine: Prosecco, Cava , or other sparkling wines
Dry Rose
Pair with Michetta, wheat crackers, nut bread, fresh tomatoes, pestos, fruits, olives, basil eggplant parmesan, fresh arugula and Roasted Tomatoes
Type Fresh soft, artisan, brined, Italian Type Cheeses – Pasta filata (pulled- or stretched-curd) style
Texture Smooth, creamy and stringy
Rind Rindless
Colour White
Flavour Delicate, creamy, acidic, mild, milky
Aroma Fresh
Source of milk Cow’s or water buffalo’s milk
Family Mozzarella
Country of origin Italy

Variations

This cheese is available in curd form to pull your own fresh mozzarella by hand, logs or shape of balls. Well-known varieties include Bufala (Buffalo) mozzarella made with buffalo milk or Bocconcini (little balls) marinated in oil. Other types of Mozzarella are Mozzarella Fior di Latte, which is produced from fresh, pasteurised or unpasteurised cow milk, while Low-moisture mozzarella is made from whole or part skimmed milk. And last, but not least, Mozzarella affumicata is a smoked variety of Mozzarella.

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Mozzarella di Bufala or Buffalo mozzarella or Mozzarella di Bufala Campana

Mozzarella di Bufala is a creamery, stretched curd cheese made from the milk of domestic water buffalo’s milk in the south of Italy. It has an oval or spherical shape of various sizes and it is wet, shiny and pure white.

It has been observed that those cheeses made from buffalo milk are higher in calcium, protein and lower in cholesterol than cow’s milk. Mozzarella di Bufala is manufactured under strict regulations in areas ranging from Rome in Lazio to Paestum, Campania and a production area near Foggia, Puglia. Buffalo mozzarella coming from the Campania region bears the “Mozzarella di Bufala Campana” trademark and DOC. Apart from Italy, it is also produced in many countries.

Characteristics & Tasting Notes

Buffalo mozzarella is a fresh, soft, semi-elastic textured cheese belonging to “pasta filata” family. The process of making pasta filata cheese includes heating the curd to a point where it can be stretched and formed into various shapes. This gives the snowy white mozzarella a mild yet slightly sour taste. The texture is soft, moist and somewhat granular. It is coated with a thin edible rind and brined for up to a week when sold in vacuum-sealed packages.

Serving Suggestions & Food Pairings

Like most fresh cheeses, mozzarella is used to add texture rather than a specific taste to a dish. The cheese goes well in antipasti dishes, with salads, pastas, calzones, vegetables and various side dishes. It is also common in popular Italian dishes like lasagne and baked casserole. When used in cooking, heated mozzarella becomes slightly creamy.

 

Best wine pairing White Wine: Sauvignon Blanc, Greco di Tufo, Riesling, Pinot Grigio/Gris, Gruner Veltliner
Red Wine: Beaujolais, Chianti, Gamay Beaujolais, Zinfandel
Pair with Pears And Figs, mostarda di cremona, Italian bread, roasted sweet peppers, sopressata, olives
Type Fresh, soft, brined
Texture Creamy, smooth and springy
Rind Rindless
Colour White
Flavour Floral, mild, milky, sour
Aroma Fresh
Source of milk Water buffalo’s milk
Family Pasta filata
Country of origin Italy

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Burrata

Burrata (meaning “buttery” in Italian) is a fresh artisan Italian cow milk cheese (occasionally buffalo milk) closely related to mozzarella and actually made by hand with mozzarella curds, rennet, and fresh cream.

Supposedly it was invented by Lorenzo Bianchino Chieppa, a cheesemaker who had an idea to form a shell of stretched mozzarella strings and fill it with luscious, rich cream and smaller, leftover pieces of mozzarella. The result was a true delicacy with the creamiest interior and a rich flavour of fresh milk, which very quickly became extremely popular.

The outside thin shell a pasta filata curd (a unique plasticising and kneading treatment of the fresh curd in hot water, which imparts the finished cheese its characteristic fibrous structure and melting and stretching properties) made of solid mozzarella, while the inside contains stracciatella (a cheese produced from Italian buffalo milk) and a soft, doughy, stringy, mixture of curd and fresh cream, giving it an unusual, soft texture. The cheese is wrapped in a herb (Pugliese asfodelo) to enhance the unique flavour.

Characteristics & Tasting Notes

The cheese has a rich, buttery flavour and retains its fresh milkiness. It has a creamy texture and a sweet flavour.

It’s milky on the nose and on the palate, with all the unctuous richness that we love in buffalo milk cheese.

Serving Suggestions & Food Pairings

It is usually served fresh and at room temperature. When the burrata is sliced open, a spurt of thickened cream flows out. Place this delicate, lovely pouch on a plate for a few minutes, and that cream will start to ooze out; cut it open, and it’ll explode into a gooey mass, with a stracciatella inside that almost looks like rice pudding. Plop one of these pouches atop a pasta dish or salad, or garnish it with olive oil and truffle flakes before diving in with a spoon.

Thanks to its flavour and differing textures inside and outside, It can be served alone, seasoned only with some salt, pepper, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, but it is also delicious when accompanied by fresh tomatoes with olive oil, it goes well with salad, prosciutto crudo, crusty bread, cracked black pepper, when used as a topping for pizzas or bruschettas. Toss into warm pasta, or use in a caprese salad (fresh ripe tomatoes, basil and cheese). It can also be paired nicely with fresh figs sprinkled with a touch of salt.

Substitutes/Similar cheeses

Fresh Mozzarella or Mozzarella di Bufala

Storing

Burrata should be eaten as fresh as possible – ideally within 24 hours of being made and is considered past its prime after 48 hours.

 

Best wine pairing White Wine: Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio
Red Wine: Sangiovese, Zinfandel
Sparkling Wine: Prosecco
Pair with Prosciutto, crusty bread, fresh tomatoes with olive oil, cracked black pepper, or pasta
Type Fresh soft, artisan, Italian Type Cheeses – Pasta filata (pulled- or stretched-curd) style
Texture Creamy interior and smooth, stringy exterior
Rind Leaf wrapped
Colour White
Flavour Buttery, milky, mild and sweet
Aroma Fresh, milky
Source of milk Cow’s or buffalo’s milk
Family Mozzarella
Country of origin Italy

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Note: I get really excited about cheese and wine, so it’s difficult for me to be brief when there is so much wonderful information to share!

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Reference: Content and images based on information from: https://www.wikipedia.org/ https://cheese.com https://www.cookipedia.co.uk
https://culturecheesemag.com https://www.gourmetsleuth.com https://winefolly.com/ https://www.tasteatlas.com https://www.wine.com/ https://winemonger.com https://www.terroir-france.com/


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