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  • Claudia Romeo: We're in San Nicandro Garganico, Italy,

  • and today we're going to see

  • how caciocavallo cheese is made.

  • Caciocavallo is one of the most popular cheeses

  • here in southern Italy,

  • and it's famous for its elongated shape.

  • What we're going to see today

  • is a special kind of caciocavallo, the Podolico kind,

  • which is made with the raw milk of Podolica cattle,

  • a rare breed of cattle that is able to survive

  • in the harshest conditions that we can find here.

  • These conditions make their cheese

  • one of the most expensive in Italy,

  • sometimes even more expensive than the finest of Parmesans.

  • Let's go find out more.

  • The Podolica cows that make this seaside cheese

  • scatter all over as they roam,

  • making it hard to tell that you're actually on a farm.

  • Meet Virginio, one of only a handful

  • of producers making the cheese we're here to learn about.

  • He uses a recipe that his grandparents taught him,

  • though the most important element

  • of this recipe is location.

  • Here in San Nicandro Garganico,

  • we are only one kilometer from the sea

  • and 100 meters above sea level.

  • This is an important detail, and we'll soon know why.

  • Claudia: The Podolica produce

  • only 3 to 6 liters of milk a day,

  • which is much less than the 30 liters

  • an average cow might produce.

  • Today we're working with 50 liters.

  • The environment in which the cows feed

  • gives this milk a rich, earthy flavor.

  • The whole cheesemaking process takes five hours.

  • Virginio heats up the milk to 40 degrees,

  • enough to warm it up but still keep it raw,

  • which is essential to make this type of caciocavallo.

  • If the milk were to become too warm,

  • it would scorch and kill off the unique flavor

  • that the Podolica cows' milk brings to this special cheese.

  • He then adds rennet and fermented whey

  • from yesterday's production,

  • and after 20 minutes he starts cutting the curd.

  • He aims for the size of a grain of rice.

  • To do that, he uses this mushroom-looking tool,

  • which is called menaturo --

  • a word that, as you may have guessed,

  • comes from the local dialect.

  • Claudia: Rather than slowly cutting the curd,

  • to make caciocavallo,

  • Virginio energetically slashes through it.

  • This breaks it up into the small pieces

  • he is hoping to achieve.

  • We are used to seeing curd being extracted

  • and then shaped into cheese right away,

  • but here it actually rests further

  • with some of its own warm whey

  • to allow for more concentrated flavor to develop.

  • Keeping the curd nice and warm

  • will facilitate its fermentation.

  • And while some other cheesemakers might use a steel vat

  • for this process, here,

  • Virginio uses a maple vat to ferment the cheese.

  • This also impacts the flavor, adding notes of acidity

  • that tickle your tongue as you eat.

  • Virginio tells us this takes about one hour,

  • but because it's winter, we ended up waiting

  • for three hours instead.

  • [liquid slooshing]

  • The curd is ready to be stretched.

  • Virginio takes out a bit of whey

  • to keep as ferments for tomorrow.

  • He then slices the curd in smaller parts,

  • which will then be kneaded in hot water.

  • In comparison to the stretched curd of mozzarella,

  • this one will be harder.

  • This is due to the waiting time

  • as well as the size of the curd when it was cut.

  • Virginio then adds some hot water to the curd.

  • He will shape it into two cheeses,

  • each weighing 2.5 kilos.

  • This process will be done completely by hand,

  • so let's get comfortable.

  • He tells me this water is 100 degrees. Yes, Celsius.

  • And judging by the color of his hands

  • and the smoke around us, I don't envy him.

  • Each cheese goes through different shapes

  • before reaching its final one.

  • Virginio has his personal signature shape, too.

  • When Virginio's happy with the shape of the caciocavallo,

  • he places it in cold water to set the shape

  • and stop the fermentation.

  • He then adds a rope around the cheeses' heads

  • to tie the pair together.

  • Once paired, the two cheeses move to bathe in brine.

  • The time they spend here depends on weight.

  • Every kilo needs 24 hours.

  • These two new entries weigh 2.5 kilos,

  • so they'll stay here for 60 hours.

  • And when that time is over,

  • their next destination is something unexpected.

  • "A cavallo" means "over the hook,"

  • hence the name of the cheese.

  • The tree is actually the only time

  • the cheeses will see some sunlight,

  • as the pair will spend the rest of

  • their aging days in caves.

  • The minimum aging is six weeks,

  • and the maximum two years.

  • Today, Virginio has prepared

  • a 6-month-old caciocavallo for us to taste.

  • A cheese this old is worth $40 a kilo,

  • which translates into just over $100 a piece.

Claudia Romeo: We're in San Nicandro Garganico, Italy,

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How Caciocavallo Cheese Is Made In Italy | Regional Eats

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/03/06
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