Pasta Filata cheeses are among the world’s favorite cheeses – mozzarella, burrata, and provolone are just a few. This unique family of cheeses rose to prominence in Italy and have been winning over hearts and bellies for centuries.
Pasta filata means ‘stretched curd’ in Italian, which is the feature that makes these cheeses so special. Somewhere along the line, cheesemakers discovered that if they worked the curd within a certain narrow ph range (5.1-5.4), the casein, or milk proteins, present in the curd would elongate drastically, allowing the curd to be stretched.
Typically hot water is poured over the curds, which are then pulled and stretched to give the cheese it’s signature texture. Once the curd is stretched, it can be formed into any style of pasta filata cheese and sold fresh or aged. Here are just a few varieties of pasta filata cheese:
Mozzarella – from the Italian ‘mozzare’ or ‘to cut’ these ball shaped cheeses are cut and squeezed from larger masses of curd. There is also Ciliegine (cherry-sized balls) Ovoline (egg-sized balls) and Perline (tiny pearl-sized balls).
Stracciatella – strings of mozzarella that are soaked in heavy cream.
Burrata – a purse-shaped shell of fresh mozzarella stuffed full of stracciatella.
Provola – a salted, aged pasta filata cheese that can be aged anywhere from a few weeks to a few years!
Scamorza – slightly aged mozzarella that dries out and forms a firmer crust and chewy interior.
Pasta filata cheeses are incredibly versatile in the kitchen, so grate, slice, and melt away!