Cheese

Hard Cheese

Hard cheese has its own distinctive robust, concentrated flavours. Hard cheese keeps very well due to its very low moisture content and the longer the cheese is aged, the more flavour and character it develops.

To make hard cheese, the curd is cut very finely and then cooked at temperatures as high as 55°C. Together, these steps help maximise the amount of moisture (whey) removed before placing the curd into hoops. The cheese is then bathed in brine, turned regularly and left to mature for a period of six to 36 months.

Aged hard cooked cheese may become slightly gritty with tiny white crystals appearing over time, these are calcium lactate crystals, which have a really zingy flavour and are often a sign of a well matured cheese.

Pecorino

History
Traditionally, pecorino was produced in the Lazio region near Rome.

Characteristics
In Australia, pecorino generally is made from cow's milk. Produced in wheels weighing a minimum of 5kg, the cheese takes up to six months to mature becoming more robust with age. Lipase enzymes are added to provide the piquant flavour. The rind of pecorino may be coated with oil and, when cut, reveals a golden interior that is grainy and slightly crumbly.

Flavour
Pecorino has a characteristic sharp flavour - slightly sweet and slightly salty.

Selection and Storage

  • Choose a cheese that looks hard and granular in texture with no evidence of cracks.
  • Store in the refrigerator.
  • Can be stored unopened or well covered for long periods of time due to its low moisture content.
  • Freezing is not recommended unless grated.

Serving

  • Grate over pasta, soups and salads.
  • Serve as a table cheese with good bread.
  • Also use as for parmesan.

For more recipes with pecorino cheese, visit The Dairy Kitchen.

Parmesan

History
Parmigiano Reggiano is the original parmesan. It is made only in the legally identified area of registered dairy farms for Parmigiano Reggiano. The cheese is stored for a minimum of 18 months prior to grading. In Australia, cheesemakers have adopted the time-honoured process in making this renowned Italian cheese to produce Australian parmesan.

Characteristics

Parmesan is produced in large wheels. Well aged, it has a shiny, oiled rind which, when cut, reveals a dry, grainy and often crunchy texture.

Flavour

A robust cheese, it has a slightly sweet, and slightly fruity flavour that lingers on the palate.

Selection and Storage

  • Can be stored covered and refrigerated for months.
  • Simply cut off any mould which may appear.
  • The age of the parmesan will have a direct impact on the flavour and character of the cheese.
  • Freezing is not recommended unless grated.

Serving

  • Parmesan is a wonderfully versatile cheese.
  • Serve as a table cheese with pears, apples or figs and almonds or walnuts.
  • Shave onto a pizza or salad.
  • Grate on pasta, lasagne or into soup.
  • Grill on eggplant.
  • Combine grated parmesan with bread crumbs to crumb meats and vegetables.
  • Stir grated into risotto.

For more recipes with parmesan cheese, visit The Dairy Kitchen.

Pepato

History
Pepato originated from Sicily where Pecorino was also made famous. Pepato was set apart from the other local cheeses by the addition of peppercorns.

Characteristics

Made with reduced milk fat, the evenly dispersed peppercorns add bursts of flavour to this slightly grainy cheese.

Flavour

The flavour of the peppercorns complements the piquant flavour of the cheese.

Selection and storage

  • Choose if it appears hard and granular in texture and there are no cracks or splits.
  • Store wrapped in foil or calico.
  • Can be stored for up to 12 months.
  • If mould appears, cut it off and use the remaining cheese.
  • Freezing is not recommended unless grated or shredded after which it can be stored in an airtight freezer bag or container for up to 12 months.

Serving

  • Beware of peppercorns!
  • Serve as a table cheese.
  • Grate over pasta, soups and salad.
  • Fold into mashed potato.
  • Blend with risotto.
  • Shave onto cooked asparagus.
  • Infuse the rind in olive oil and add fresh thyme over a low heat for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and use over pizza, pasta or salads.
  • Add to a cream sauce.

For more recipes with pepato cheese, visit The Dairy Kitchen.

Romano

History
Enjoyed as early as the 1st century BC, romano is a very popular cheese in Italy. In Australia, most romano style cheese is made from reduced fat cow's milk.

Characteristics

Usually produced in a 5kg wheel with a patterned, hard rind, romano is a hard grainy cheese. Romano has a strong flavour when fully matured, yet it is not sharp. Different lipase enzymes are used to give the cheese different flavour characteristics to pecorino.

Selection and storage

  • Select if hard and granular in texture.
  • Ensure there are no cracks or splits.
  • Store wrapped in foil or calico.
  • Refrigerate for up to 12 months.
  • If mould appears, cut it off and use remaining cheese.
  • Freezing is not recommended unless grated. Store in an airtight freezer bag or container for up to twelve months.


Serving

  • Use as a table cheese.
  • Grate over pasta, soups and salad.
  • Fold into mashed potato.
  • Blend into risotto.
  • Shave over cooked asparagus.
  • Infuse the rind in olive oil and add fresh thyme over a low heat for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and use on pizza, pasta or in salads.
  • Add to a cream sauce.

For more recipes with romano cheese, visit The Dairy Kitchen.

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